Turkish Medical Suppliers Seek $770 Million From Government

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Turkish medical equipment suppliers are set to publicly rebuke the government over what they say is an unpaid bill of about 6.5 billion liras ($770 million).

“Public and university hospitals haven’t been paying us for the past 18 months,” Erkin Delikanli, vice chairman of the Federation of All Medical Equipment Producers and Supplier Associations, said by phone Tuesday. 

Officials have blamed budgetary constraints, saying payments can be made in November at the earliest, according to Delikanli. The federation, an umbrella organization for nine professional associations, plans to make a public statement on Sept. 16.

The Health Ministry and Treasury and Finance Ministry didn’t immediately respond to phone calls and emails seeking comment.

The row between medical suppliers and the government has rumbled on for years but burst into the open in 2020 when U.S. Ambassador David Satterfield said money owed to international companies alone exceeded $2.3 billion, threatening the country’s access to critical equipment. 

Health expenditures have risen sharply since 2018 due to consecutive routs in the lira that saw the currency lose more than half its value, and more recently the pandemic.

In an attempt to resolve the stalemate, the government proposed a combination of a haircut for suppliers and extended periods of repayment lasting as long as three years, drawing the companies’ ire.

Delikanli said lira depreciation is the main reason behind the payment issue, though the coronavirus “may also have changed priorities.” 

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