Gov’t spending on public constructions skyrockets with Ak Saray

Although the total cost of the lavish new presidential palace built in Ankara remains unknown, the increasing amount of government spending on construction of public buildings has indicated how much the construction of Ak Saray may have contributed to this rapid increase.
State authorities avoid giving an exact figure for the cost of the presidential palace in the Beitepe neighborhood of Ankara, which is called by most Justice and Development Party (AK Party) supporters and”AK Saray,and” which means White Palace.
The main building of the palace was completed last year but construction of a congress center, a housing complex and many other buildings continue.
In 2010, the amount allocated from the state budget for construction of public buildings was TL 2.3 billion. This figure has risen dramatically since 2012 when the construction of the new presidential palace began. It rose to TL 3.3 billion in 2012, TL 6.4 billion in 2013 and more than TL 8 billion in 2014.
The amount of money spent on construction of public buildings in the first four months of this year was TL 1.5 million, which represents an increase of almost double last yearand’s figure, which was TL 832 million in the first four months. The contribution of the construction of Ak Saray to these figures is unknown.
In the central state budget, expenses for the construction of roads, public buildings, etc. are referred to as contracting expenses, which include money paid to the private sector by the state for the construction of public buildings via tenders. In 2014 when the construction of the main building of Ak Saray was concluded, the total amount of contracting expenses made by the state was TL 28.8 billion. Out of this figure, TL 8.1 billion was spent on construction of public buildings, TL 10.6 billion was spent on construction of roads, TL 520 million was spent on construction of public facilities, while TL 9.3 was spent on other construction projects. The extravagance of the new presidential complex has been the subject of public debate, particularly after Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek announced that the cost of the new palace was TL 1.37 billion ($615 million) in a statement in November of last year. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan later said the cost of the new palace was actually $1 billion. The Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKi) added to speculation about the cost of the new palace when in January it refused to reveal the cost of the new presidential palace, saying disclosure of the amount might aersely affect the countryand’s economy.
The Ankara branch of the Turkish Union of Engineers and Architectsand’ Chambers (TMMOB) had earlier asked TOKi to share the exact cost of the palace under the Right to Information Act, which has empowered citizens and boosted government accountability and transparency. However, TOKi refused to reveal the costs of the palace on the grounds that the announcement of the palaceand’s costs may trigger an economic crisis in the country. According to the TMMOB, the total cost of the new palace will reach TL 20 billion when its construction is fully completed.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman