Cost of Erdoğan’s new presidential palace at $615 million, minister says
Neşe Karanfil ANKARA
The entire project value of the new presidential palace built on a part of the Atatürk Forest Farm (AOÇ) land is set at 1.37 billion Turkish Liras ($615 million). AA PhotoThe cost of Turkey’s controversial new presidential palace, which has been heavily criticized by the opposition for overspending, currently stands at 1.37 billion Turkish Liras ($615 million), surpassing earlier estimates, according to fresh data provided by Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek.
Some $432.7 million has so far been paid for the construction of the Ak Saray, or “White Palace” in English, while $135 million has been allocated for spending on the palace in 2015, Şimşek told Parliament’s Planning and Budget Commission on Nov. 4.
After 12 years as prime minister, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took over as president on Aug. 28, after being elected as Turkey’s first president to be elected via popular vote on Aug. 10. Shortly after being elected, he chose to move from the more modest Çankaya Palace in the capital Ankara to the massive new complex in the city, which had initially been built for the use of the Prime Ministry.
Erdoğan hosted a state reception on Aug. 30, marking Victory Day on the 92nd anniversary of the Turkish victory over Greek forces in the War of Independence, during which he opened the facility to the press.
The complex lies on a 150,000-square-meter area inside the historic Atatürk Forest Farm (AOÇ), and hundreds of trees were cut down in one of the best preserved green spaces in the city for its construction. It is equipped with a number of high-technology systems aimed at precluding eavesdropping with bugs and wires, and has a total of 1,000 rooms, considerably larger than the White House, the Kremlin and Buckingham Palace.
In addition to the spending reserved for the new Ak Saray, yet more money will be spent on rejuvenating presidential facilities in two other cities next year.
The Huber Palace in Istanbul’s Tarabya neighborhood and a guest house in the Aegean destination of Marmaris will we renewed next year, according to Fahri Kasırga, the undersecretary of the presidency.
Some 302 million ($135.4 million) liras of the presidency’s 397 million lira ($178 million) budget will be spent on goods and service purchases and investments, Kasırga said at the Planning and Budget Commission.
This exceeds the budget that had been approved at Parliament by more than 90 percent.
[HH] Presidential jet for $185 million
“Some $185 million will be paid for the new presidential jet from the prime ministry budget,” Minister Şimşek also said.
“The new Airbus A330-200 jet is now being used by the Turkish authorities. As the jet was originally acquired by Turkish Airlines and has not been transferred to the state yet, we have not yet made the payment from the budget yet. We plan to make the payment this year from the Prime Ministry budget,” he said.
Turkey spent 874 million liras of “secret funds,” while the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) has spent 145.1 million liras up until Nov. 3 this year, he added.
The lion’s share of the secret funds were spent by the Prime Ministry with 618.4 million liras in expenditures, he said.
The Prime Ministry spent $280 million last year from the secret funds while MİT had expenditures of $85.6 million, he noted.