Confidence in institutions is eroding

Confidence in institutions is eroding

I don’t consider myself authorized to write about the Bank Asya issue from a banking perspective, but I do indeed have things to write about how the rule of law operates in such a case.

First, the political picture. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, implying the seizure of Bank Asya, said the following? “The Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) should make a decision on the issue, otherwise they will be responsible.”

The government, however, speaks differently. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said, “The rules are certain, nobody obeying the rules has anything to fear.” Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan has said, “The BDDK is independent, it makes its own decisions.” Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek has said, “The institution that can issue statements on these matters is the BDDK.”

Therefore, the stances of the president on the one side and the prime minister and Cabinet ministers on the other side are openly different.

This picture has drawn the attention of the markets and also the international circles watching the quality of justice in Turkey. Turkey’s reputation will also be affected this way or another.

As a matter of fact, economist-writer Erdal Sağlam, who knows this business very well, wrote that this situation not only damaged the bank in question, but also “has started to negatively affect the entire banking sector.”

The reason that regulatory and supervisory institutions such as the Central Bank, the Public Procurement Agency, and the BDDK are independent is for them to be able to reach decisions according to the law and according to economic wisdom, without being affected by the political will.

According to Article 82 of the Law on Banking, the BDDK “operates independently under its own responsibility.” Moreover, according to the same article, “No branch, office, authority or individual can give orders or instructions to influence the decisions of the institution.”

Exactly like the judicial branch, isn’t it? Do you see how significant the importance of the BDDK and similar institutions are? The reason is that if there is an impression formed that they are being influenced, then the “confidence” factor, which is the base of market economy, will be shaken and you cannot very easily build this back.

Only six months ago, Kemal Derviş - who was, in a way, the architect of independent institutions - had warned that in the event that the shadow of politics falls over these institutions, then serious issues of confidence would erupt.

Because of this, Prime Minister Davutoğlu, Deputy Prime Minister Babacan and Finance Minister Şimşek say the BDDK is independent and it will decide for itself according to the rules.

Bank Asya is obviously a matter in the challenge between the government and the Gülen movement. However, justice exists so that in these kinds of situations, it is not one of the sides that have a say, but it will be justice that will have the last say. The most fundamental principle is the rule of law.

The cure is worse than the disease if, for the sake of crushing the movement, you cast a shadow on Turkey’s image concerning the rule of law and the credibility of its independent institutions. Recently, erroneous stories that would harm Turkey have appeared in the Western media; I also condemn this. But one needs to think about this also: If the Western media, which were praising Turkey yesterday, has such prejudiced stories today, then doesn’t the fact that we have damaged our own reputation lately facilitate this kind of coverage?

Particularly when our economy is passing through a period that requires special sensitivity, shaking the confidence of institutions should be carefully avoided. I do not view the incident from the perspective of the government or the Gülen movement; I view it from the perspective of the confidence of institutions. I had also written this when the government and the movement were arm in arm.

Let the BDDK decide independently whatever is right, while it is believed to be independent.