TODAY’S – Opposition demands account of public spending in budget debate

Opposition demands account of public spending in budget debateThe government has been harshly criticized by the opposition for the lack of transparency in public spending and the countryand#39s economic problems during budget debates in Parliament, though the government said the relatively low economic growth rate for 2014 is linked to global developments.Main opposition Republican Peopleand#39s Party (CHP) leader Kemal KIlIdaroIlu called on the government to explain where taxpayersand#39 money is going and how the budget is being used when he took to the floor on behalf of his party at the budget debates which started off on Wednesday.

andldquoIt should be stated what the taxes paid by 77 million people are being spent on. The government should [be transparent] on these issues,andrdquo he said during discussions on the 2015 budget.

He criticized the government for failing to be transparent when it comes to budget issues and said it has failed to announce the budget on time for eight years.andldquoYou are given authority by the nation.

But you cannot use the budget as if itand#39s your fatherand#39s farm,andrdquo he added.Claims of the ruling Justice and Development Partyand#39s (AK Party) misuse of taxpayersand#39 money has peaked recently, especially with the construction of a colossal complex for President Recep Tayyip ErdoIan.

The presidential palace, which ErdoIan said has more than 1,150 rooms, was built on state forest land at a cost of TL 137 billion, according to Finance Minister Mehmet IimIek, although critics have claimed that the total costs could be three times as high or more.The CHP leader also called on the prime minister to get rid of ErdoIanand#39s tutelage over the government.

Dual executive damages the country, KIlIdaroIlu warned.Citing several examples of meddling by ErdoIan, who has no such authority as per the Constitution, in the governmentand#39s affairs, the CHP leader said: andldquoDonand#39t let anyone intervene in your field of authority.

andrdquoThe CHP leader also blamed Parliament Speaker Cemil iek for remaining silent despite the fact that Court of Account audit reports have been significantly trimmed before being submitted to Parliament for budget debates.During his address, KIlIdaroIlu asked nearly a dozen questions for Prime Minister Ahmet DavutoIlu to answerKIlIdaroIlu talked about DavutoIluand#39s boasts about his willingness to fight corruption and called on him to act in line with his remarks by taking solid steps against corruption in the government.

Citing a previous court order, which ErdoIan turned a blind eye to while he was prime minister, for the destruction of number of floors the high-rise residential complex 16:9 (OnaltIDokuz) in Istanbul, the CHP leader asked, andldquoMr Prime Minister, are you going to observe the court order?andrdquoHe also criticized DavutoIlu for never uttering a word about the illegally constructed presidential palace, noting that the luxurious building was originally built as the office of the prime minister, but was andldquoseizedandrdquo by ErdoIan.andldquoWhy did you hand over the building to the presidency?andrdquo KIlIdaroIlu demanded to know.

Noting that reports by the Court of Accounts reveal serious corruption in the construction of the presidential palace, he said: andldquoAre you going to launch an investigation [into the issue]?andrdquoCHP leader: Stories about economic welfare baselessBased on figures, the CHP leader maintained that the economic growth the government has been boasting about for years is just an illusion.Comparing the ruling partyand#39s term in power, which began in late 2002, with the previous period of the Turkish Republic in terms of the average growth rate that Turkey achieved, KIlIdaroIlu dismissed the governmentand#39s story of economic success.

Noting that the AK Party achieved an average growth figure of 47 percent, while the republicand#39s average score before the AK Party was 51 percent, the CHP leader said, andldquoMr Prime Minister, if these figures are correct, then stop deceiving people with this fairy tale of development.andrdquoHe also implied that the ruling partyand#39s economic performance was not impressive at all, maintaining that the AK Party governments have spent 1 trillion dollars more than all the governments that served before the AK Party had since the foundation of the republic.

IimIek, who was the first to take the floor during the budget debates, said the governmentand#39s expectation for this yearand#39s economic growth is 33 percent, which is lower than last yearand#39s figure of 4 percent.An increase in geopolitical tensions caused economic growth to go down in 2014, IimIek said, noting that the global economy is still in the grip of problems.

The CHP leader also drew attention to the deterioration in the distribution of income during the AK Partyand#39s term in power Noting that in 2002, the wealthiest 1 percent of the population held 39.4 percent of the national GDP, he said the figure has increased to 54.

3 percent in 2014.andldquoThatand#39s why Turkey has more millionaires than in Japan,andrdquo he said.

The CHP leader also scoffed at the governmentand#39s boasting about Turkey being the 17th-largest economy in the world, saying Turkey figured among the top 15 countries in the early 1980s.He underlined that ranking number 17 is nothing to brag about, given that Turkey has always figured among the top 20 countries in terms of the size of its economy.

Hasip Kaplan, who took the floor on behalf of the pro-Kurdish Peoplesand#39 Democratic Party (HDP), criticized the governmentand#39s unwillingness to militarily help Kurdish militants fighting against Islamist radicals in SyriaKaplan said Kurdish militants in the Syrian town of Kobani, who are affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistanand#39s Workersand#39 Party (PKK), cannot be described as terrorists, as the government has said.Devlet Baheli, leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), focused his criticism of the government during his speech, which was otherwise not very sharp, on the settlement process launched at the end of 2012 to resolve the countryand#39s decades-old terrorism issue.

The MHP leader, who stressed that the best way to take out terrorists is by fighting with them, said: andldquoWe have repeatedly said nothing can be gained through negotiations with terrorists.andrdquoThe government launched the settlement process with Abdullah calan, the jailed leader of the outlawed PKK, which has been waging a bloody war against the state since 1984.

DavutoIlu, who is scheduled to take the floor following the MHP leaderand#39s speech, will respond to criticism from the opposition on behalf of the government.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman