Main opposition CHP confident in its economic plan, calls on finance minister to join their team
AA PhotoTurkish main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has called Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek’s bluff shortly after the latter said he would vote for the CHP if it could prove its ability to find the financial sources for promises Kılıçdaroğlu recently made as part of his party’s election campaign.
The quarrel between CHP head Kılıçdaroğlu and Şimşek of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) took place on April 20, the day after the main opposition social democrat party outlined an ambitious election manifesto with concrete and holistic promises to end poverty, address the problems of the country’s 17 million poor people and prioritize turning the country into a first-class democracy.
Kılıçdaroğlu announced his party’s manifesto under the title of “A Livable Turkey” and introduced his parliamentary candidates on April 19.
“Let them [the CHP] tell us which taxes they will increase, in which areas they will economize. If they are not able to make these, then from whom they will get loans and how will they fulfill these commitments without exploding the current account deficit and taking Turkey into a crisis? Then they would deserve the Nobel Prize,” said Şimşek in an interview aired live on CNN Türk.
“I’m saying it frankly: Let them show their sources. Then I would not only take my hat off to them, I would also say that I would vote for the CHP too,” Şimşek surprisingly said.
“Let them explicate only one-third of it [their sources], then I will vote for them,” he reiterated.
“I am the minister of finance. We know the situation of the budget very well. We would also like to win the election. Are we stupid? Why wouldn’t we implement these [promises]? They either don’t know how to count or they have never administered an economy. In our medium-term program, we foresee a budget deficit amounting to 16 billion [Turkish Liras] for the year 2016. The minimum cost of these commitments is 149.5 billion liras,” the minister said.
“It [what the CHP has offered] is meant to say that the current budget deficit will be increased threefold with one whack. These are empty promises,” he said.
Kılıçdaroğlu responded with a cool approach when he was reminded of Şimşek’s comments in an interview aired live on NTV news channel, only a few hours after Şimşek’s interview was broadcast on CNN Türk.
“We are waiting for Mr. Minister [Şimşek]. We would be pleased if he comes and becomes a member of us,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
“Mr. Finance Minister should not forget that I am a former senior accountant,” he said, referring to his background as the head of the country’s old Social Security Institution (SSK).
A sarcastic and confident Kılıçdaroğlu then called on the minister to join their party, but only after getting a brief training on finance.
“Mr. Minister has no experience in finance but I do. However, if he wants to become a member of the CHP, he should briefly get our training,” he said.
“We don’t have a problem about sources. If Mr. Prime Minister [Ahmet Davutoğlu] has doubts about this, if he is calling it ‘unrealistic commitments,’ then we would sit and discuss it together,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, underlining the CHP had performed the calculations for the total cost and for “each kuruş.”
“We never used a sentence like ‘There is economic crisis,’ but Mr. President [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] did so,” he said.
The CHP leader was referring to an acknowledgement voiced by Erdoğan over the weekend when he spoke of “A temporary crisis in the economy.”
Earlier in the day, Şimşek was also asked to comment on Erdoğan’s remarks of an “economic crisis.”
“There is a temporary slowdown. But it cannot be defined as ‘crisis,’” Şimşek briefly responded.
Economic growth in Turkey fell to 2.9 percent in 2014 from 4.2 a year earlier and the lira is down 12 percent versus the dollar this year - sources of concern acknowledged by Erdoğan.
Kılıçdaroğlu promised to boost welfare and personal incomes and said the social democratic CHP would focus on boosting value-added economic production and creating an information society.