Draft on privatization of Turkey's highways proposed

Draft on privatization of Turkey's highways proposed

A draft code on the privatization of Istanbul’s two bridges and part of its highways has been presented to the Parliament. The draft proposes an amendment on the Highways Code to enable the establishment of a legal corporation to pave the way for public offering as a privatization method.

The highways and bridges were sold at a December 2012 tender to a consortium of Koç Holding, the largest conglomerate in the country, Gözde Girişim with links to local food giant Yıldız Holding, and Malaysia’s UEM Group Berhad. The consortium was granted the total rights to and revenues from toll roads, including the Edirne-Istanbul-Ankara highway and the Bosphorus and Fatih Sultan Mehmet bridges that connect the European and Asian sides of Istanbul, for 25 years. However, Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek said in a written statement Feb. 22 that the ministry and the Privatization High Council (ÖYK) had jointly decided to cancel the deal.

“We will review the privatization offers, for example for the highways or bridges. We have much bigger expectations,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had said in an interview broadcast live the evening of Feb. 1. The amount for toll roads failed to meet the expectations and he cared for the benefit of the public, he said.

The tender was the second highest privatization tender in Turkish history. Finance minister said in March that the new privatization method would be founding a company and public offering for highways and bridges.

Deputies of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have proposed 20 draft bills to the Parliament. One of them offers to enable General Directorate of Highways’ toll roads and facilities’ operation rights to be transferred to an anonymous company for 30 years, 100 percent of whose shares would be owned by the Privatization Authority (ÖİB). Then, the company will go to the public.

Also, one of the drafts proposes the privatization of horse racing which is regulated by the Ministry of Agriculture.