PAUL BENJAMIN – TOKI an increasing source of urban discontent, says World Bank

TOKI an increasing source of urban discontent, says World BankTurkeyand#39s rate of urbanization in recent decades has only been second to South Korea, and a major vehicle of this has been the Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKI). This organization, however, has become an andldquoincreasing source of urban discontent,andrdquo World Bank Turkey Director Martin Raiser said on Wednesday at the release of a new World Bank report in Istanbul.

andldquoThe contracting model for housing provision on public land has lacked transparency. It has also failed to close the gap in low-income housing, as increasingly, investments have been diverted to commercial developments.

Municipal planning remains ad hoc and short-term with increasing risk of urban sprawl and inefficient settlement patterns at the periphery of Turkeyand#39s fast growing metropolitan areas,andrdquo the World Bank said in its nearly 300-page report.TOKI has been the recipient of an onslaught of lawsuits in recent years from dissatisfied customers who have complained of poor construction quality or who have had to wait longer than anticipated for the delivery of their homes.

Recently, TOKI has reappeared in the news after it opted not to reply to an inquiry submitted by the Turkish Union of Engineers and Architectsand#39 Chambers (TMMOB) regarding the cost of the Ak Saray presidential palace, which has been the source of controversy due to its eye-popping size and cost. The palace, which is said to have more than 1,000 rooms, cost TL 137 billion according to Finance Minister Mehmet IimIek, although the TMMOB believes the figure to be considerably higherAlthough the World Bank was positive in its assessments of Turkeyand#39s economic achievements over the past few decades, it warned that it must embark upon institutional reforms to break free from the middle-income trap and join the ranks of high-income countries.

In the report, entitled andldquoTurkeyand#39s Transitions: Integration, Inclusion, Institutions,andrdquo the World Bank focused on Turkeys success in integrating the countryand#39s economy with European markets and spurring growth within Turkey in lesser developed regions. It also emphasized the progress Turkey has made regarding social inclusion, noting that Turkeyand#39s middle class constituted 41 percent of the population in 2010, rising from a mere 18 percent in 1993.

However, the reportand#39s third theme was one of caution, warning that Turkey will need to make big strides regarding the rule of law, transparency and the entrepreneurial atmosphere in order to achieve continued growth.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman