ANKARA: In a bid to eradicate the inherent poverty of the underprivileged Roma community, the government is set to roll out incentives ranging from jobs to loans for entrepreneurs from the community. Customs and Commerce Minister Bülent Tüfenkçi said Roma entrepreneurs will be supported with state grants, from loans to incentives, for setting up co-ops to improve the sales of the products they manufacture and help to gain access to wider markets. Tüfenkçi said they have already offered interest-free loans and would provide technical support if Roma citizens request aid in establishing co-ops. Most Roma citizens work in low-level and low-paying jobs due to their limited access to education. The government has worked to help them access better jobs with better social security and seeks to encourage participation in free vocational training courses where participants are automatically employed in public services and private companies once they complete the training. The government will also deploy job consultants to help Roma citizens in employment.
An action plan exclusively for Roma citizens is gradually being implemented and as part of this plan, traditional handicrafts that members of the Roma community have made a living from, such as tinsmiths and basket weavers, will be helped through access to larger markets and receive incentives to sustain their jobs, which are slowly becoming extinct due a lower demand. The government will also launch a campaign for schooling Roma citizens. Education is one of the challenges plaguing the community, who often avoid enrolling their children in schools due to discrimination or because poverty forces the children to skip school to earn a living for their families. Turkey’s Roma citizens have long complained of veiled discrimination for decades, as is the case in other countries, and the lack of any social policies to help improve their status further prevent the betterment of their conditions. Low levels of education and blacklisting in terms of employment are among the major problems they face.