Social assistance grew fourfold before elections

The amount of social assistance distributed by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government topped the TL 1.3 billion mark in the month before this yearand’s June 7 general election compared with the TL 349.4 million spent in May 2014, when no election was scheduled to follow, according budget figures released by the Finance Ministry this week.
The AK Party, which was in power until it failed to win enough seats to gain a parliamentary majority and form a single-party government after the recent elections, has been criticized for its social assistance practices. The party is known to routinely increase its social assistance before elections, distributing coal and other items to those in need, particularly in provinces and districts already thought to be AK Party strongholds. Critics argue that such a practice fosters dependence and selectively targets only those in need who are predisposed to vote for the party.
h2Use of discretionary fund doubles in month before electionsh2
Presidential use of the discretionary fund was another expenditure that dramatically increased in the lead-up to the June 7 elections. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spent TL 109 million from this fund during May, more than doubling the TL 51.5 million that was spent in April, according to a report in the Cumhuriyet daily on Tuesday.
Parliament approved legislation earlier this year granting the president use of the discretionary fund, which is normally set aside for the Prime Ministry. More than TL 600 million from the fund has been spent so far this year.
The discretionary fund had been specially allocated for the use of the prime minister to finance covert operations in which the state may not be directly involved. According to the law, it is a crime to reveal how money from the discretionary fund is spent, and the Prime Ministerand’s Office is able to file a criminal complaint against anyone who makes the nature of this spending public.
President Erdoganand’s use of the discretionary fund during his tenure as prime minister has recently been at the center of debate. The main opposition Republican Peopleand’s Party (CHP) has claimed that Erdoganand’s discretionary fund expenditures amounted to 20.5 times that of the previous three prime ministers combined.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman