Turkey’s finance minister says he would ride bike to work, if not for terror organizations
ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
AA PhotoFinance Minister Mehmet Şimşek has said he would like to ride a bicycle to work, like a number of politicians in European countries, if it were not for regional terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Şimşek’s remarks come after he recently described state spending on official cars as “peanuts,” amid debate over President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s controversial allocation of a luxury car to Turkey’s top cleric.
“There is the PKK terror organization, the DHKP-C [outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front] in this country, while there is a murderous terror organization like ISIL in the region,” Şimşek said on June 1.
Last month, Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) head Mehmet Görmez had returned his newly purchased official car worth around 1 million Turkish Liras ($435,000) after harsh criticism from the opposition and the public. However, President Erdoğan refused to accept the return of the car and allocated another luxury car, as expensive as the former, to Görmez. He justified the move by saying the pope was also allocated armored vehicles and a private plane, which the pope’s office later denied.
Şimşek had said that the cost of cars used by state officials is “peanuts” in relation to Turkey’s overall budget, in a speech in the southeastern province of Gaziantep on May 23.
“If you add up all of these [officials using a state car], the figure [spent on state cars] is peanuts compared to Turkey’s domestic income, within the budget,” Şimşek said. He added that in 2014, Turkey spent 3.3 billion Turkish Liras on these cars’ purchases, rents, maintenance and fuel, a tiny fraction of Turkey’s budget of 473 billion liras.