CHP’s ‘mega project’

Two weeks to the national election, and the main opposition Republican Peopleand’s Party (CHP) keeps announcing new policy proposals on the economic front.
Its latest plan is to construct a new city in Central Anatolia. The specific location has not yet been disclosed, but party officials indicate the population of the proposed city would be about several million.
In my opinion, there are three important aspects of the and”mega project.and” It is going to be a new city. It will be a and”logistics centerand” of Turkey and also of the wider region. It is going to have a different and separate governance structure from other parts of the country.
First of all, why have they proposed to construct a new city rather than expand and improve one of the existing ones? Because to and”fixand” old cities is usually costlier than to construct new ones. It is technically easier to plan a new city from scratch than expand an existing city, which was either built without any plan at all or with a plan for a much smaller population and economic activity in mind. There are also political difficulties in fixing the existing cities according to new goals and plans. Every change to the structure of those cities would inevitably create winners and losers. We know that major renovation projects in Turkey cause political dissenters and public relations crises at some level. Even though these changes create benefits, it still stirs the political mood, since some parts of society benefit more than others. So, in theory it might be a good idea to construct a new city rather than tailor one of the existing ones according to a new plan.
However, the and”why do we need a logistics center cityand” question still needs an answer. To be frank, I am not satisfied with the given answers. The CHP officials indicate that Turkey has a very aantageous geographical position. It is close to the European, Asian and African markets and so is at the center of world trade. Thus it would be desirable for multinational companies to have manufacturing and logistics support centers in Turkey. The CHP claims that once the physical infrastructure and regulatory framework are established, private investors will flood to the new city. They emphasize that Turkey currently does not utilize that geographical aantage, and not enough trade volume passes through Turkey. The CHP suggests that those kinds of gigantic logistics centers are the new norm in this globalized world. Similar plans in China and Saudi Arabia are highlighted as proof of the economic feasibility of this mega-project.
Finally, the CHP suggests the new city would have a different governance structure than the rest of Turkey. It would have a much reduced level of bureaucratic oversight, and the governor of the city would have much greater control than mayors and governors in other parts of the country. From that perspective, it sounds like the so-called charter cities of Paul Romer, a prominent economics professor at New York University. Dr. Romer has contributed significantly to the literature of economic growth. However, he was also interested in putting his ideas into practice. He considers the failure of governance mechanisms as the main reason for underdevelopment. According to him, most underdeveloped countries are underdeveloped not because of their geography, their climate, their natural resources or their culture, but because of erroneous structures of governance.
He claims that autarkic cities can provide an attractive environment for economic and social development even in underdeveloped countries. However, it is normally not possible to provide and”good governance islandsand” in these bad governance countries. Dr. Romer suggests that developed countries like England and Canada can be a guarantor country to the governance of certain cities in underdeveloped countries. He claims that if these cities become successful, it will be easy to expand the new system to other regions of the country. So far charter cities were seriously considered in two countries: Madagascar and Honduras.
The Madagascar episode ended after the president of the country, who believed firmly in charter cities, was overthrown by a military coup. Recently, Dr. Romer distanced himself from the charter cities project in Honduras as well. He says the current developments worry him because he believes the founding fathers of the charter city in Honduras are creating a new unaccountable ruling class. Both attempts show that good governance is a very difficult result to achieve. To impose it from outside even with the best intentions is not very effective.
I doubt that the CHP plans to have a foreign guarantor country for the new city. However, I think it would be equally difficult to establish this good governance island by utilizing the internal dynamics of the country. If our local dynamics were enough to establish and maintain good governance structure, we would already have it at the national level. The best we can achieve is to provide financial concessions to foreign and local investors. Unfortunately, I seriously doubt these concessions have benefits in the long run for Turkey.
Having said that, I believe the CHPand’s mega project is less crazy than the Justice and Development Partyand’s (AKP)razy projects such as Canal Istanbul.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman