Business tycoon Ağaoğlu slams Turkish deputy PM's vow to shift focus from construction

Business tycoon Ağaoğlu slams Turkish deputy PM's vow to shift focus from construction

Business tycoon Ağaoğlu slams Turkish deputy PMs vow to shift focus from construction

Ali Ağaoğlu, a figure who often invites scorn due to his maverick ways and disregard for the environment, made a statement on Sept. 9. AA Photo

Ali Ağaoğlu, a construction mogul known for his close ties with the government, has denounced Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan’s pledge to shift Turkey's focus to developing industry, rather than construction.

In his remarks last week, Babacan, the deputy prime minister in charge of the economy, said Turkey needed a change in protocol to shift investments from the construction sector to other industries, in a move that would enable a better share distribution and prevent “ugly cities.”

Speaking to reporters on Sept. 9, Ağaoğlu criticized Babacan’s remarks, which he described as showing an intention to "block construction."

“More than half of your population lives in caskets. You need 1 million houses a year. What are you preventing?” Ağaoğlu said.

“Whatever construction has done, it has done so by itself. If you are going to support industry, then reduce the costs of its loans, energy and labor and reduce its taxes. We also back industry [through construction],” he added, while acknowledging that industry is “difficult business” and should be supported.

The business tycoon, who was briefly detained as part of the Dec. 17, 2013 corruption probe, noted he “holds the deputy prime minister in high regard,” but called his recent statement “unfortunate.”

Babacan had stressed that earning money in the construction sector is “easy” and pulls down the share of productive industries in the national income, adding this is “not a good trend.”

He also stressed that the problem was not solely economic and also drew attention to the aesthetic problems with modern buildings in Turkey.

“Vertical construction has increased in Turkey due to problems in the development plan code. An area with construction generally two or three stories high can suddenly receive authorization for multi-story buildings. This makes cities ugly, paves the way for easy revenue and casts doubts on the fair distribution of rent,” he had said.