Business group head does not step back in clash with Turkish President Erdoğan
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Haluk Dinçer. DHA PhotoHaluk Dinçer, the outgoing head of the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD), has stressed that the leading business organization generates around 85 percent of the taxes in the country, saying its words should be taken seriously amid a recent verbal rift with the government.
Dinçer also stood behind what he had said earlier regarding the group’s addressee being Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and other Cabinet ministers, not President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, which both politicians have reacted against.
“As TÜSİAD members, we have the largest share in production and creating employment in the country. Some 85 percent of all taxes are paid by the TÜSİAD members. TÜSİAD is an effective - but more importantly, an independent - non-governmental organization. What TÜSİAD’s members say is naturally heard in Turkey,” he said, speaking in a meeting with reporters in Istanbul on Jan. 9.
In an interview with Hürriyet on Dec. 29, Dinçer had stated that although his organization has no problem with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, “TÜSİAD’s addressee is not the president, but rather the prime minister and the ministers related to our field.”
In response, Prime Minister Davutoğlu vowed not to attend TÜSİAD’s general assembly meeting, during which the new TÜSİAD head and administration will be elected, on Jan. 22, 2015, according to Prime Ministry sources.
However, in his latest remarks Dinçer reiterated his earlier words. “It is not meaningful to discuss this addressee issue so much. The president is the head of the state, representing the Turkish Republic.
The addressee of TÜSİAD is, of course, the government, because it offers its policy proposals to the government and criticizes it if necessary,” he said.
Upon a question about whether TÜSİAD is acting as an “opposition group,” Dinçer stressed that TÜSİAD is not a political party and emphasized the huge share of its members in the Turkish economy.
TÜSİAD acts in line with its founding principles, written in 1971, he added.
“Turkey knows what it must do to start growing again. The government’s economy and development programs have defined what to do very well. But as TÜSİAD members, we believe the necessary structural reforms are being delayed in the midst of many elections that the country has seen in recent years. It is still not too late to realize these reforms, which will make an overall positive contribution of 1-1.5 percent to the growth rate,” Dinçer said.
If the necessary short, medium and long-term reforms are prioritized and made in an efficient way, and if public expenditures are restructured for the sake of ensuring higher productivity, Turkey may start growing at around 5-6 percent by 2016, he also noted, while referring to his concerns about the recent decline in industrial production growth rates and the consumer confidence index.
Dinçer added that the most prioritized reform areas at the moment are judicial and educational reform.
“For us, the most crucial reform area is the education system. A judicial reform is also urgent right now, as many Cabinet members say, including Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan. Business circles and citizens have no confidence in the judicial system. Women’s employment must also be increased. Over 11 million women do not work in Turkey, instead simply staying at home to raise their children. This must change,” he noted.
The TÜSİAD head was bullish over the public budget, saying Turkey’s budget balances are now much more robust than they were 12 years ago.
“The rate of the public debt is around 30 percent of GDP. The budget deficit is around 1 percent. We, as the TÜSİAD members, are now questioning whether the deficit will increase up to 2-3 percent. But more public resources could be transferred to the education system, R&D activities and other fields to ensure a longer term development. We’ll study this with Koç University and we’ll create a recommendation package,” Dinçer said.