CHP’s election pledges refuted by finance minister

CHP’s election pledges refuted by finance minister

How will main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s promise of “two bonus salaries annually for the retired” reflect on the central budget? I asked this question to Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek while we were flying to the southeastern city of Batman on March 12. 

Şimşek had a clear answer. “These kinds of promises are classic and populist pre-elections promises. They need to be corrected within this framework because they are not realistic. Look, the budget deficit we estimate for 2015 is around 21 billion Turkish Liras. This year, the total amount of retired salaries will be 159 billion liras. Two bonuses a year means 26.5 billion liras. That will make the budget deficit go up to 47.5 billion liras,” he said.

As a matter of fact, when you look at the figures from the budget criteria, the following question emerges: “How will this calculation be explained?”

Şimşek said, “Now imagine you are making an election promise and with one item you increase the budget deficit one-and-a-half times. You need to ask at that point ‘How will the CHP leader make this raise? Will he impose new taxes? Or which expenditures will he cut down? Most importantly, how will he do it without an explosion in the budget deficit?’ For this reason I am saying that if he explains the financing of this raise then he would be credible. Otherwise, he would fall into the trap of classic populism.” 

The İzmir experience

Şimşek cited an example from the past for Kılıçdaroğlu. “Actually, we have seen that in the past. For example, when Mr. Kılıçdaroğlu was a mayoral candidate for Istanbul, he made a pledge. That time he had promised at least 600 liras for each family. He was not elected the Mayor of Istanbul. But they have won important cities such as İzmir and Eskişehir. If he had applied that pledge he had given that day for these provinces then his pledges of today would have been more credible,” he said.

Şimşek wanted Kılıçdaroğlu to show how he will answer this calculation, with clear figures.

Batman and tennis 

Actually, we visited Batman as tennis lovers. We came for a tournament that was organized maybe for the first time in this part of Anatolia.  

It was the final of an International tournament, the TEB Batman ATP.

It was worthwhile to watch the efforts of the head of the Tennis Federation, Cengiz Durmuş, as well as deputy head Gökhan Dönmez’s organizational experience.

They have built fantastic facilities. 

Of course TEB General Manager Ümit Leblebici was also there. TEB has made the biggest contributions to the tennis world. 

These contributions to Turkey’s tennis should not be forgotten. 

Meanwhile, Şimşek has advanced incredibly in tennis in three years. We may see him in tournaments soon. 

The positive power of sports 

Interestingly, one of the finalists was an Israeli tennis player. We know how the anti-Israeli sentiment has risen around here lately. But, no…there was no bad voice in Batman.

The young and successful Israeli tennis player received the best of applauses. 

The spring that has come to Mesopotamia has especially made children glow like flowers.

I just hope that Batman, the place where fears of fire were burning in the mountains and where cannon balls were heard, will never cease to hear the sound of tennis balls. 

Brands are competing in Batman streets; it is an exclusively lively city with lively people… It looks that if a permanent peace is made, Anatolia will outdo itself. It will do so because these people and culture, this sacrifice and history of friendship, will revive.