Main opposition CHP bashes gov’t over lack of audit reports of budget
DAILY NEWS Photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZThe government has come under fire for the Court of Accounts’ failure to send audit reports of state institutions’ expenditures to Parliament, with the main opposition deeming the budget drafted by the government “illegitimate.”
“The 2014 budget is not legitimate. And the legitimacy of a government whose budget is not legitimate is disputable when it does not give account to the Parliament. The government breaks the law by preventing information. The Court of Accounts also breaks the law by not informing the Parliament,” said main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Dec. 10, as he was delivering a speech at the beginning of 10 days of debate on the 2014 Central Governance Budget Law in Parliament’s General Assembly.
The Court of Accounts was supposed to examine the expenditures and submit the reports to Parliament before budget debates began, but it had not completed the reports before the Parliament’s Planning and Budget Commission started to debate the 2014 budget. The top court did not send its reports last year either before the 2013 budget talks.
Kılıçdaroğlu said the government was attempting to cover up its corruption and that the court was cooperating with the government so that the government would not account for its spending.
In further remarks, Kılıçdaroğlu tacitly criticized tax probes on the Koç Group, Turkey’s largest industrial group, which faced tax auditions shortly after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s lashing out at the company for harboring and treating Gezi demonstrators at the conglomerate’s Divan Hotel.
Kılıçdaroğlu said tax probes were being used as a punishment for certain companies. “Tax auditing should not be an instrument of punishment. Tax auditing should be [beyond the bounds of] political influence,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek, for his part, in response to reporters’ questions before attending the session, strictly denied claims that reports by the Court of Accounts were not being sent to Parliament.
“The claims that the reports of the Court of Accounts are not coming [here], and that the Court of Accounts has not been auditing, are completely wrong,” he said.
‘Kurdistan’ controversy marks budget debates
Meanwhile, a day after deciding to omit the word “Kurdistan” from official documents, tension over the issue ran high at Parliament, where lawmakers ostensibly gathered for discussions on the budget.
The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) accused the Parliament Speaker’s Office of censorship, while the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) defended its position on constitutional grounds.
The controversy erupted after the BDP controversially used the phrase “Turkish Kurdistan,” in apparent reference to the predominantly Kurdish-populated regions of eastern and southeastern Anatolia, while expressing its opinion against the government’s 2014 budget. The term bears some similarity to the phrase “Iraqi Kurdistan,” used to refer to the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq.
Eventually, at a General Assembly meeting on Dec. 9, with a three-party consensus between the ruling AKP, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the phrase was omitted from the document, which was attached to a report on the 2014 draft budget by Parliament’s Planning and Budget Commission. It was also decided to republish the report in its new form.
BDP deputy Hasip Kaplan took the podium yesterday, shortly after CHP deputy Mustafa Balbay had taken his parliamentary oath following his release from prison on Dec. 9. Kaplan had both versions of the report on the draft budget in his hands.
“This one is the censored report and this one is the original report. If you destroy intellectual rights and freedoms, then we will sue the Parliament Speaker’s Office at the ECHR [European Court of Human Rights],” Kaplan said, before throwing the “censored” report on the floor.
AKP deputy Nurettin Canikli then delivered a speech mainly arguing that the Constitution required the changes to be made to the report.
BDP deputy Sırrı Sakık and AKP deputy Mahir Ünal then took the floor one after the other.
Sakık recalled how Erdoğan had recently used the word “Kurdistan,” and said this meant that the prime minister himself did not respect today’s Constitution. Ünal, for his part, stressed that “nobody should exploit the terms Kurd, Kurdishness, or the Kurdish language.”
The BDP deputies left the General Assembly hall when Şimşek started to present the 2014 Central Governance Budget Law.