‘I cannot take that coin’, says the dolmuş driver. He hands back the fifty kuruş coin to the passenger in the shared taxi and mumbles: ‘It’s old money, you know’. The passenger knows: as of the first of January, the ‘new Turkish lira’, which was replaced by the ‘Turkish lira’ on January 1st 2009, is not valid anymore.
The new Turkish lira notes have already been out of circulation for months, but the coins are still very common. And what is in your pocket, you use. The old money can still be brought to the bank, but who wants to make the effort for a few coins? Big businesses do, as I noticed at a supermarket where I got rid of my last 25, 10 and 5 kuruş coins. But taxi drivers, small shop owners, hair dressers, market vendors, simit sellers, all these small guys, they don’t want to go to the trouble, and nor do ordinary citizens.
It leads to endless discussions all the time. In the dolmuş I was in, the guys even started shouting at each other. The passenger said quite rightly: ‘If the coins are on the market, how can they not be valid, how can you tell me I can’t pay with it?’ And the driver had a point when he answered that he can’t use the old coins to pay at the petrol station. Luckily, in the end they agreed: it’s the government’s fault. They should have taken more action in the last twelve months to take not only the notes, but also the coins out of circulation. I couldn’t agree more.