Gov’t blasted for overlooking multi-billion dollar spending

A statement by Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek that money paid for official cars is and”not even peanutsand” in the context of the Turkish economy has drawn the ire of the opposition, which accused the government of and”reckless waste.and”
Speaking in Gaziantep on Friday, Simsek commented on the recent controversy over the large amount of money the state spends on official luxury cars used by top state leaders and bureaucrats. Stating that the money paid for these cars and”is not even peanutsand” in the budget, Simsek said these cars cost the state TL 3.3 billion in 2014, while Turkeyand’s overall budget is TL 473 billion.
His remarks came amidst claims of the ruling Justice and Development Partyand’s (AK Party) misuse of taxpayersand’ money. Over the weekend, main opposition Republican Peopleand’s Party (CHP)laimed that the government spent as much as TL 100 billion on luxury items so far.
Critics who have slammed the AK Partyand’s reckless spending include government spokesperson and Deputy Prime Minister Bandulent Arinandc, who will not feature in the new government to be formed after the June 7 general election if the AK Party is re-elected. Arinandc openly criticized the level of and”reckless spendingand” in a speech in April, saying, and”Our government has presided over a number of successes, but our report card on tackling wasteful spending has been poor.and”
A TL 1 million car purchased for Religious Affairs Directorate President Mehmet GandOrmez has recently been at the center of controversy. Earlier this month, GandOrmez said his office would return a recently purchased official car that sparked controversy after reports showed that it cost TL 1 million. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who became personally involved in the controversy by opposing the return of the car despite the public outcry, announced on Thursday that his office decided to give GandOrmez a new armored car as a gesture following the controversy.
h2Govand’t wasted billions of dollars, CHP saysh2 The CHP estimates that the AK Party government had spent TL 100 billion ($38 billion) on such items as a lavish presidential palace and fleets of Mercedes brand luxury vehicles for ministers since they came to power in 2002.
Opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Antalya deputy Mehmet Gandunal told Todayand’s Zaman on Sunday that Simsekand’s statements referred to crony capitalism. and”The government has turned down dozens of requests by the opposition for such small-scale investments as TL 50 to TL 100 million so far. Now they have the guts to ignore TL 3.3 billion for luxury cars as andlsquopeanut money.and’ andhellip This is sheer impudence,and” Gandunal asserted. Underlining that the AK Partyand’s political program has lost its credibility in the eyes of Turkish society, Gandunal said Erdogan insisting on keeping the Religious Affairs Directorate at the center of such debates will discourage even more people from donating to charities, especially those organized by state institutions.
Earlier in April, Simsek said CHPand’s pledge to raise the minimum wage to TL 1,500 was unacceptable, citing potential harm to budget balances. The current minimum wage stands at TL 949. Recalling this statement by Simsek, Professor Ramazan Tai from Turgut andOzal University told Todayand’s Zaman on Sunday that the government openly defends waste and ignores peopleand’s demands.
and”The number of official cars in such developed markets as Japan, Germany and France is no more than 10,000. How come this figure hit as many as 130,000 vehicles in Turkey? These countries are 10 times the size of Turkish economy each, but they still do not waste their money on luxury,and” Tai asserted.
and”The governmentand’s reckless spending spiraled out of control and negatively impacted the economy, CHP Deputy Chairman Selin Sayek BandOke, who is part of the CHPand’s economy team, told reporters in Istanbul over the weekend.
BandOke asserted that the government boosted its luxury spending particularly after it sidelined independent auditing mechanisms and dealt a major blow to transparency in public procurements.
Underlining that Erdoganand’s arbitrary interventions in independent institutions prompted a homemade crisis for the Turkish economy, BandOke stressed that the negative effects of political instability are well demonstrated in markets with declining investor confidence and highlighted the increased amount of capital fleeing Turkish financial markets.
andquotInvestors would like to be able to predict the outlook so they can generate profit they demand a functioning judicial system. The reason for the capital outflow from the country is due to the fact that the judicial system is not working properly,and” said BandOke.
The CHP official recalled that the AK Party under Erdogan conceded an income per capita decline of $40 between 2008 and 2015, while debt per capita has grown to $1,279 in the same period.
h2Palaces, schools, hospitals for peanutsh2 With the TL 3.3 billion that Simsek referred to as and”peanuts for Turkey,and” the government could have built three more presidential palaces like Erdoganand’s luxury palace in Ankara, calculations show. It also could have been used to build 388 high schools, 440 elementary schools or 300 student dormitories. The same amount could also cover the costs of 37 maternity hospital buildings in Turkey, where infant mortality figures hit 14,821 in 2014.
The criticism of the governmentand’s reckless spending especially peaked with the construction of a colossal complex for Erdogan, one of the founders of the AK Party.
The presidential palace, which Erdogan now occupies and which he has said has more than 1,150 rooms, was built on forested state land at a cost of TL 1.37 billion, according to Simsek, although critics have claimed that the total costs could be at least three times higher.
Ali Aslan Kiliandc in Ankara contributed to this story.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman