ARIF – Turkey pledges to fight corruption at G20, slides on corruption index

Turkey pledges to fight corruption at G20, slides on corruption indexTurkey assumed the presidency of the G20 group of major economies on Monday and pledged to fight global inequality and corruption during its term, a contrast with its recent fall of 11 places on Transparency Internationaland#39s (TI)orruption Perception Index (CPI).Ali Babacan, the deputy prime minister in charge of the economy, made a speech on Dec.

1 during the G20 handover ceremony in which he said andldquoInclusiveness, Implementation and Investmentandrdquo were the andldquothree Isandrdquo that will encapsulate Turkeyand#39s G-20 presidency.Babacan also commented on 11 points Turkey plans to highlight during its term, including strong, sustainable and balanced growth employment energy commerce battling corruption and a special focus on development.

On the subject of strong, sustainable and balanced growth, Babacan said Turkey will discuss the necessary stimulants to increase demand without upsetting the balance of global public finances while simultaneously pressing to swiftly implement structural reforms.However, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) November forecast, Turkeyand#39s economic growth has lost momentum in 2014.

The report states that Turkeyand#39s gross domestic product (GDP) growth is to be relatively weak by Turkish standards, at 325 percent in 2015 and 4 percent in 2016.Babacan also said Turkey will adhere to the action plan put forward by the members of the G20 concerning employment, aiming to increase the participation of women and young people in the work force.

However, Turkeyand#39s labor market is sending warning signals. The number of applications to the Turkish Employment Organization (IIKUR) increased by 14.

7 percent year-on-year in October, reaching 215,800, as a consequence of rising unemployment rates in recent years.Nevertheless, public sector employment has risen, according to the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat).

The government institution says in its latest report that public sector employment has reached 342 million people with a 37 percent increase in the third quarter of 2014 compared to the same period of the previous yearThe growth in the public sector work force is seen by many as something the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) plans to promote in the upcoming 2015 general elections.The most controversial part of Babacanand#39s 11 point list, however, is Turkeyand#39s expressed commitment to battle corruption.

International corruption watchdog TIand#39s recently released report shows Turkey was one of the worst performers this yearThe CPI measures peopleand#39s perceptions of graft rather than actual levels, given the secrecy surrounding corrupt dealings. It uses a scale whereby 100 is the least corrupt and 0 is the most corrupt.

According to the CPI report, Turkey, along with China and Angola, is perceived as increasingly corrupt despite strong economic growth in recent years. Turkeyand#39s record has clearly worsened in 2014, dropping by five points from 50 to 45 on the scale of corruption.

andldquoThe once great economic hope of many — Turkey — suffered one of the biggest drops in score andhellip. Images of gold bars and millions of dollars stuffed in shoeboxes, coupled with incriminating videos, the firing or resignation of government ministers, multiple arrests and sadly, a number of suicides, topped the list of stories this year involving endemic corruption at the highest levels of Turkeyand#39s business and government,andrdquo the TI report read.

Turkeyand#39s ruling AK Party has been shaken by two sweeping graft probes that went public on Dec. 17 and 25 of last year Four then-Cabinet ministers lost their posts following the Dec.

17 graft probe. Then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoIanand#39s son Bilal, the sons of three of the four former ministers as well as several businessmen and bureaucrats were implicated in the investigations.

However, shortly after the two probes went public, all the prosecutors and police officers taking part in the probes were removed from the investigations. A purge then ensued in which thousands of members of the police force and hundreds of members of the judiciary were either reassigned or dismissed.

Both corruption investigations were dropped in October by the prosecutors who were assigned to take over, raising concerns that the probes are being covered up.Prime Minister Ahmet DavutoIluand#39s chief aiser Etyen Mahupyan said late on Tuesday that a majority of people believed corruption existed, but that the ruling AK Party had retained support because voters also believed the government was the victim of a plot.

andquotTo escape from the danger of a coup, people accepted putting up with corruption for some time more,andquot Mahupyan said in an interview with broadcaster CNN Turk. andquotThere were two evils and they had to choose.

They made a rational choice.andquotMithat Melen, a former deputy for the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), said to Todayand#39s Zaman, andldquoThere are no andlsquothree Isand#39 of corruption.

As long as Turkey is stuck within this circle of corruption our international reputation will continue to decrease.andrdquoRemarking that no one in Turkey is appropriately dealing with the problem of corruption, Melen said, andldquoTurkey is now a country no other country takes seriously [in the international arena].

andrdquoandldquoWe as the people have to make sure that there is transparency, that the media is doing its job, [and that] all institutions make corruption impossible in the country,andrdquo he said.Selin SayIk Bke, the deputy chairman in charge of economic affairs of the Republican Peopleand#39s Party (CHP), told Todayand#39s Zaman: andldquoI find it very ironic that the DavutoIlu government chose to tackle corruption during the G20 presidency of Turkey.

andrdquoAccording to Bke, andldquoThe government acts in one way in front of the international community and acts completely the opposite in domestic policy.andrdquoStating that the AK Party has brought numerous pieces of legislation before Parliament that allow for a tighter grip on society via state intelligence and security agencies, Bke went on to say, andldquoThe AK Party government is in no position to talk about accountability and transparency, and certainly is in no position to spearhead the G20 battle against corruption.

andrdquo.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman