CHP candidate İnce blasts Erdoğan over megaproject expenses
Muharrem İnce, the presidential candidate of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has criticized the megaprojects pushed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, saying their public-private financing model is indebting Turkey.
“[Erdoğan] accuses me of being inexperience. He said they have not spent a dime on big public investments. Haven’t you given Treasury guarantees to those projects? Isn’t it a fact that the Treasury is paid for by all of us?” İnce said on May 29 at an election rally in the northern province of Trabzon.
His criticism came after Erdoğan defending the contentious Kanal Istanbul project aiming to build an artificial canal bisecting Turkey’s largest metropolis.
“With Kanal Istanbul we will prevent environmental disasters. It will be a worldwide brand. It will not be funded from the public budget, it is a public-private partnership built using a build-operate-transfer model. If you want to learn about this, we can give you a private lesson,” the president said on May 29 in Istanbul.
İnce had also criticized bridge projects for carrying hidden costs that are being passed onto taxpayers.
“Answer this question: Why we are crossing the bridge that [former President Süleyman] Demirel built for a toll of 10 liras but crossing the one that you built for 100 liras?” he said.
The opposite candidate noted that the government is granting guarantees to big companies from the Treasury for infrastructure investments such as bridges and city hospitals. Users are charged for many of these projects and if the overall financial targets guaranteed to the companies are not achieved then the Treasury has to pay the difference, sometimes tens of millions of dollars.
“Was it me who granted a passenger guarantee [for the bridges]? Was it me who granted a patient guarantee for hospitals? Was it me who granted the flight guarantee for airports?” İnce said.
He also criticized ruling party officials’ comments on the Turkish Lira’s recent plunge in value against the U.S. dollar.
“They are saying [foreign powers] are manipulating us through the dollar. But was it me who made the deal for bridges based on dollars?” İnce said.