TODAY’S – Deputy PM: Graft operations changed perception of Turkey

Deputy PM: Graft operations changed perception of TurkeyDeputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan said that the corruption investigation that went public on Dec. 17 of last year has changed how the world perceives Turkey, while speaking to journalists in Istanbul on Thursday.

A Transparency International (TI) report released on Wednesday indicated that Turkeyand#39s rating had dropped from 50 to 45, the largest plunge of any country on the list. A rating of 100 is a perfect score, while a zero indicates the highest presence of corruption.

The TI report directly referenced many of the major details of the corruption scandal, which was by far the biggest of its kind in the history of the Turkish republic. andldquoImages of gold bars and millions of dollars stuffed in shoeboxes, coupled with incriminating videos, the firing or resignation of government ministers, multiple arrests and sadly, a number of suicides, topped the list of stories this year involving endemic corruption at the highest levels of Turkeyand#39s business and government,andrdquo the TI report read.

andldquoThe issue of transparency is important. It is a subject that has risen to the forefront of the agenda and is also considered very important by the G-20 countries,andrdquo said Babacan, the minister responsible for the economy.

andldquoFrom 2002 until now, we have done a great deal to improve the state of transparency,andrdquo he added.Babacan referred to the construction sector, saying that development projects need to be carried out in a just manner and profitable opportunities should be distributed proportionately.

andldquoFor this to happen there must be a competitive environment. If there is a lack of such an environment, problems will arise.

In order to create more transparency in this area, I developed a detailed plan with my fellow ministers alongside various municipalities. This will go to the Council of Ministers and will be released as a governmental decree,andrdquo said Babacan.

This is not the first time Babacan has urged reform within the construction sector, which is largely responsible for the expansive growth the Turkish economy has enjoyed over the past 12 years. Babacan said in September that the sector should operate in a more sustainable manner and that it is too focused on short-term, high profit projects, which generate easier gains than other industries requiring longer investment return periods.

He criticized the explosive rate at which skyscrapers and high-rise buildings are being built, saying that such construction has made Turkeyand#39s major cities uglier Shortly after Babacanand#39s remarks, prominent contractor and real estate tycoon Ali AIaoIlu lashed out at the deputy prime minister, saying that his comments were made with the intent to andldquoblockandrdquo the construction sectorAIaoIlu is known for his close ties to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), and was one of the major figures taken into custody under the auspices of the Dec. 17 corruption investigation.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman