Divulging cost of Ak Saray would hurt Turkey’s economy, housing administration says
Last month, Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek announced that the controversial new palace would cost 1.37 billion Turkish Liras, or $615 million. AA PhotoTurkey’s Housing Development Administration (TOKİ), which has gained notoriety for its massive housing projects in recent years, has refused to divulge the cost of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s new palace on the grounds that the move “could hurt the economy.”
“Based on Article 17 of the Law on the Provision of Information ... which states that ‘an announcement or a premature announcement that will negatively affect the country’s economic profits or result in unfair competition and earnings,’ it has been deemed inappropriate for our administration to provide information [on the cost of the building],” TOKİ said in a statement late Dec. 2, in response to a query from the Chamber of Architects’ Ankara branch about the new complex, known as the “Ak Saray” (White Palace).
Last month, Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek announced that the massive building would ultimately cost 1.37 billion Turkish Liras, or $615 million. More recently, Rönesans Holding, the contractor that constructed the building for Erdoğan, admitted that it was unsure of how many rooms the palace possessed.
Tezcan Karakuş Candan, the head of the chamber’s Ankara branch, slammed TOKİ’s refusal to provide the true cost of the building.
“We’ve already explained that the cost of the [building] could be over 5 billion liras and that this is just the tip of the iceberg,” Candan said, according to online news portal Bianet.
“If the reason for TOKİ’s refusal to announce the cost is that it will hurt the economy, this indicates that there would be speculation on the stock exchange if [it] were announced. This means that the cost must be something that would make our jaws drop,” Candan said.
“Because they have spent the nation’s money, even if they try and justify [the building] by calling it the national palace, their extravagantly luxurious spending can never be accepted,” she added.
“Instead of searching for a solution to poverty, they have gotten someone to build a luxurious presidential palace with jacuzzis, pools, steam rooms and hamams, at a cost that could presage an economic crisis, all the while usurping the public’s Atatürk Forest Farm to build an illegal palace,” Candan also said.
The building, the of which construction was largely kept under wraps until the summer, was originally intended to be a new building for the prime minister, but it was reallocated to the president after Erdoğan won the presidential elections in August. Despite being built illegally on protected land, Erdoğan challenged all who opposed the building “to come and knock it down if you can.”