Bill to relieve firms hurt by Arab Spring

Bill to relieve firms hurt by Arab Spring

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Bill to relieve firms hurt by Arab Spring

A rebel fighter gestures in Libya, where Turkish contractors are heavily exposed.

Turkey’s Parliament has passed a bill that will allow the government to postpone by up to one year the tax payments of entrepreneurs who suffer economic losses due to political unrest in foreign countries and natural disasters at home.

The legislation, approved late Feb. 7, aims to relieve mainly investors who were hit by the upheaval in Libya and last year’s earthquake in eastern Turkey.

Under the bill, the Economy Ministry will have the authority to decide whether “a political risk has materialized” in a given country, upon which the Cabinet will outline for how long taxes and other arrears will be postponed. Natural disaster victims would be eligible by default, while entrepreneurs claiming losses in unrest abroad would be required to document their situation.

Opposition lawmakers argued during the debate the “political risk” term was too broad and might lead to arbitrary assessments.

“Many countries in Africa are always in turmoil. Greece and even Portugal and Italy could be considered in the same category,” Altan Tan of the Peace and Democracy Party said.

The debate also saw the government come under fire over relief efforts in the wake of the Oct. 23, 2011, earthquake in Van. In response to the criticism, Environment and Urban Affairs Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar said 28,000 housing containers were needed in the province and 25,000 had already been supplied, accommodating 130,000 people. “The number of those living in tents is 7,000,” he said, stressing that most of them were people who had homes but were still scared to sleep there.