Unsound construction and the bribery index
The pioneer of the Green Building Movement in Turkey, Dr. Duygu Erten, was in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev last week as the guest of the Climate Initiative of the German Environment Ministry.
Erten was the main speaker in the “Energy Efficiency” conference that was organized through German and Ukrainian cooperation. Dr. Erten spoke of the “green transformation” that is taking place in the construction sector across the world and informed the audience about “International Green Building Certificates.”
Erten, who owns the Turkeco Construction and Energy Co., which provides these certificates, encountered an interesting query during the part of the conference when she was taking questions from the audience.
“I was baffled when representatives of the Kiev Construction Sector inquired about the unstable buildings in the Van quake,” she told me when I called her to congratulate her on the Feast of the Sacrifice holiday.
The scenes emanating from Van have raised suspicion regarding Turkish contractors who take on major projects in Russia and Ukraine, Erten said.
“I tried to explain as much as I could that the Turkish construction firms who partake in international projects are the best ones in Turkey and that they comply with all construction standards,” she said.
The big picture looks truly inconsistent when observed from the outside.
There are the Turkish construction firms that have completed highly successful schemes from Libya to Russia over a wide scale of projects ranging from airports to malls on one hand, and there are the houses and schools that caused the deaths of hundreds in Van on the other.
Are unstable buildings unique to Van?
Do you recall how contractor Ali Ağaoğlu, who built some of Istanbul’s most important buildings, said there were more unstable buildings in Istanbul than in Van, at a time when televised debates over the Van quake were raging on?
Just as the massive frauds in the construction sector were coming under the spotlight due to the Van temblor, I received an email from Oya Özarslan, the head of the administrative board of the Transparency Association.
Özarslan highlighted an interesting point in the “Bribegivers Index,” the fifth edition of which was published this year by the International Transparency Association.
Public tenders and the construction sector together constitute the two top sectors in the world that are perceived as being the “dirtiest.”
Özarslan is absolutely right when she indicates that this condition of the construction sector plays a critical role in public health.
As we have also seen in the example of Van, bribery and fraud unfortunately kill.
When we take a glance at the “Bribegivers Index,” we see that companies which give bribes most frequently in both of the sectors in question are located in China and Russia.
Not to mention that Turkey also ranks in 21st place among 28 countries.
The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany and Japan are the countries where bribery is the least common.
The total size of unrecorded money amounts to somewhere between $1 trillion and $1.6 trillion, according to World Bank figures.
This constitutes the greatest obstacle lying before economic growth.
The G-20 countries that represent 85 percent of the world’s economy carried the issue of bribery into their agenda during their meeting in Cannes last week.
They also discussed this matter in Seoul last year.
I just happen to wonder about how much progress the G-20 has managed to make on this critical subject.