Opposition slams AKP’s economic handout package as ‘pre-election bribery’
Opposition parties have slammed the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) debt restructuring and handout package announced on April 30, saying the package worth up to $6 billion is a part of “pre-election bribery” ahead of snap elections to be held on June 24.
“The AKP declared a hastily put together package yesterday, but it has actually stolen from our 2015 election manifesto,” main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) spokesman Bülent Tezcan said.
“This package may seem to address some problems but it is no proper remedy to them. I am calling on our citizens to not be deceived by this package,” Tezcan added.
His comments came after Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said on April 30 that the government will roll out a “debt restructuring and social reform package” that would cost between 22 and 24 billion Turkish Liras weeks ahead of snap elections.
Yıldırım said the measures would restructure tax and premium debts to public institutions as well as traffic, election and military service fines. The government will also take steps towards registering nearly 13 million structures built without proper deeds in Turkey.
In addition, the government will give a 1,000-lira handout to pensioners before the two main annual Muslim holidays each year, while nearly doubling the 265-lira monthly additional pensioners’ allowance to 500 liras.
Tezcan said the CHP proposed a similar package in 2015 that included bonus payment to pensioners, as well as debt restructuring programs in the healthcare system, zoning amnesties and tax restructuring programs. The AKP did not adopt the package at the time, saying the budget could not stretch to such payments, he added.
“Where have you been for the last three years? The only reason they have adopted it now is because of the haste of the election. They are obliged to adopt it because the election has arrived,” he said.
“The issue is not about giving incentives, amnesties or reforms, it is about the fact that tradesmen have been brought to a point where they cannot pay their insurance premiums or their taxes. We are not against amnesties. We are against the understanding that makes tradesmen depended on amnesties,” Tezcan added.
“This package is not a package of giving. It is a package for receiving votes,” he said.
The İYİ (Good) Party also issued a statement on April 30 blasting the government’s move as “election bribery.”
“If you had the means, why you have deprived the public of this right up to now? Why are you only presenting it now, like an election bribe,” the statement read.
The İYİ Party also pointed to the CHP’s 2015 election manifesto pledge, recalling that then finance minister Mehmet Şimşek had described the suggestion as “unrealistic.”
“The regulation that Şimşek said would raise the budget deficit by 70 percent, was unrealistic and would bankrupt the economy has now been presented as an election investment,” it read.
The Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) also slammed the package, saying the tax amnesty “will drive the economy into a crisis.”
“These kinds of regulations will not solve structural problems. The current account deficit will cause pressure on the exchange rate and will cause interest rates to increase. The poor, tradesmen and farmers will ultimately have to take on the burden,” HDP co-leader Sezai Temelli said on April 30.
“Preventing further crises is only possible with the democratization of economics,” Temelli added.