TODAY’S – ErdoIan aide questions foreign ownership of banks

ErdoIan aide questions foreign ownership of banksTurkey’s banking sector should be restructured in order to remove foreign influences, President-elect Recep Tayyip ErdoIan’s top aiser YiIit Bulut said in a column for the Star daily on Monday.In the column, in which Bulut outlines a plan of action for Turkey’s banks, he says the most important step is to “change the structure and weight of the Turkish banking sector, which appears to have been abandoned to the control and mercy of foreigners and ‘foreigners within’.

”Bulut’s isolationist comments are worrying but exaggerated, said Standard Bank’sTim Ash. “One of the huge achievements of the AK Party in its early years in government was opening up the economy to foreign investment and capital and privatizing.

The share of foreign banks in Turkey is actually relatively low, by regional comparisons — ie 30-40 percent as against 60-90 percent in most other places in the region. So this would be a really retrograde step, as it would likely reduce competition, if anything,” said Ash in an emailed note.

Bulut, who has said that Turkey does not need Europe, wrote in his Monday column that Turkey should “develop a single banking system with Russia, Iran, Syria, Georgia, Azerbaijan, northern Iraq and its other neighbors.”Commentators have speculated that ErdoIan will try to get rid of the more moderate members of his Cabinet, including Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan and Finance Minister Mehmet IimIek, and solidify support with younger politicians who firmly adhere to ErdoIan’s policies and espouse ideas more in line with the president-elect’s harsh rhetoric and polarizing remarks.

The possibility has been raised that ErdoIan could replace Babacan — who is the main figure responsible for the economy — with Bulut. Formerly a vocal critic of ErdoIan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) who wrote for the left-leaning daily Radikal, Bulut’s stance took a 180-degree turn and he was appointed by ErdoIan as his chief aiser last yearWhen interest rates were hiked earlier this year given an increasingly weak lira, Bulut initially intervened when Babacan had recommended a rate increase.

The daily Taraf reported that ErdoIan had said “YiIit doesn’t think so” in response to Babacan’s recommendation.Bulut once again contradicted Babacan earlier this month after the latter claimed that the state-run Ziraat BankasI was interested in purchasing the Islamic lender Bank Asya Bulut denied that such a purchase was to take place, as the government would not be interested in purchasing a lender that carries over $1 billion in non-performing loans.

He made headlines with a head-scratching remark last year when he said that foreign aggressors are trying to kill ErdoIan with telekinesis.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman