Main opposition MP’s communication expenses spark debate after bill of nearly 800,000 Turkish Liras
DHA photoCommunication expenses by an Adana lawmaker from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) totaling close to 800,000 Turkish Liras in the past month alone have sparked a debate within her party and the Turkish parliament.
The MP, Elif Doğan Türkmen, has apologized for the event, saying she was unaware that she had been spending that much.
“I was just sending messages and occasionally letters,” she said, according to daily Habertürk. “I am very, very sorry. I even turn off the lights of the restroom in parliament [to save money]. I was really shocked. I wish that they had warned me. Nobody has said anything to me until today. If I knew this service was this expensive, I wouldn’t have used it,” she said.
Türkmen has also spent more than 2 million liras over the past 13 months.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu signaled that the matter would be discussed at a party meeting, noting that she had left the party in a difficult position.
Following the debate in parliament, Türkmen issued a written statement about the controversial communication expenses, saying she had not been informed about the extent of her bill, state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.
“I do not believe that I am responsible for the prohibitive prices for the rights and services that are provided by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey … I was not provided with any notification regarding how high a level these expenses, which are completely open, had reached. The person that needs to be questioned is the one that procures these services at prohibited prices and offers them to users without the slightest information. Let everyone know that I will steadfastly continue my political and legislative works as a lawmaker and a member of the Presidency Council. Our priority will be the people who voted for us and the national will,” she said.
The Turkish Presidency Council, however, responded to Türkmen’s statement, saying it had informed all lawmakers about their communication expenses.
The council said communication expenses are sent to lawmaker’s email accounts, adding that lawmakers can check their expenses via a program on computers at their office.
Meanwhile, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu also commented on the situation, describing the act as “ethically wrong.”
“I have met with her. Parliament entitles members of the Presidency Council to a limitless communication expense right. But why is this limitless? We cannot call this ‘illegal expense,’ but it was certainly not ethical.
This expense right should be changed,” he said in an interview with private broadcaster CNN Türk.
“If you ask people why they spent so much money, they can respond by saying they have this right. But this is not ethical,” the CHP head added.