Did you say transparency?

Did you say transparency?

Istanbul is going through active days because of Turkey’s G-20 presidency. Due to this, G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors were holding meetings in our city.

Before them, International Finance Institute held a conference in Istanbul. In the “Reinvigorating growth, reducing inequality” session, the focus was “transparency.”

Transparency seems to be the key word these days. The Swiss Leaks scandal is the latest proof that anything secret may come out to the open one day, thanks to the Internet.

It was understood that a Swiss bank helped its customers dodge billions of dollars in taxes after a cache of secret files emerged online with the cooperation of Washington-based “International Consortium of Investigative Journalists” (ICIJ), Britain’s The Guardian, France’s Le Monde and BBC Panorama.

According to a piece by Le Monde on Feb. 8, among the secret account holders in Switzerland are leading French businesspeople and artists, as well as Moroccan King Mohamed VI, who visited Turkey last December with five jets.

I do not know how the Moroccan king will account for that money to his public, but if you ask me the Turkish side of the story I have this: Some 3,105 Turks were said to have accounts in the bank in the mentioned period in the Swiss Leaks documents.

In 4,584 accounts that belong to them, there are about $3.5 billion.

 According to Swiss Leaks, Turkey is in 23rd place among 203 countries that have secret accounts.
It is a big question mark whether the identities of those Turks who have secret accounts in Switzerland will be disclosed in coming days.

While transparency was the most important agenda item in the world and in the G-20 we are presiding, Turkey has two important gaps. 

One of them was the situation at the World Economic Forum’s B-20 meeting at Davos.

In the B-20 working groups led by TOBB, there is no president for the “Anti-corruption working group.”

While other working groups are led by outstanding names from the business world such as Güler Sabancı, Ali Koç, Ferit Şahenk and Hüsnü Özyeğin, it is quite surprising that the “Anti-corruption working group” does not have a president.

The second important gap is the shelving of the “Transparency in the Public Package” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu announced on Jan. 14. This package required that even the provincial organization heads of political parties represented in the parliament had to declare their property to the parliament.

Also, there were some arrangements to prevent excessive profits from construction, development and zoning.

Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan is especially focusing on this transparency package. He had especially emphasized that changes in zoning and developments should absolutely be conducted transparently.

All our cities, primarily Istanbul, are suffering under a wild urban transformation; there is an excessive profit that is not shared justly.

But, then, the package was shelved because of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s reservations.
While this “Transparency Package” that may help Turkey upgrade is shelved, on the other hand, a 17-year-old young man has been tried “with the speed of light” and sentenced to four years in prison on charges that he stole chocolates and food from a market during the Kobane protests in Istanbul’s Esenyurt district.