PM, opposition clash on economic performance
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (C) and opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu participate in Turkish Exporters Assembly meeting in the capital city of Ankara. AA photoThe leaders of Turkey’s ruling and main opposition parties engaged in a battle of words yesterday at the Turkish Exporters Assembly’s (TİM) general meeting yesterday, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan excoriating his counterpart for comparing the Greek and Turkish economies.
“The esteemed chairman [Kılıçdaroğlu] claimed on a television program last week that the Greek economy was better than Turkey’s,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying by Anatolia news agency in his opening speech at the TİM meeting. “Let’s be realistic. [Greece] is a country that cannot reveal accurate population figures. It is a country that is making an effort to present a higher national income per capita by decreasing its population [on paper]. Ask [Greeks] about their purchasing power. Can a country begging for 100 billion [euros] in order not to collapse be a model for Turkey? Can a country that is currently trying to sell its islands be a model for Turkey?”
Turkey has set aside stand-by agreements with the International Monetary Fund, Erdoğan said, adding that Turkey’s debt to the IMF had fallen to $1.7 billion from $23.5 billion when he took office in 2002.
“The Central Bank had $27 billion in its safe back then, now it has $92 billion. How much does Greece’s Central Bank have, I wonder? How is the relationship between Greece and the IMF, or the European Union?” Erdoğan said. “Turkey is the second-fastest growing economy in the world after China, with 8.5 percent [growth]. Why do [people ignore] these facts? Some people attempt to ‘commit suicide’ rather than take pride in this success.”
Also speaking at the meeting, Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kılıçdaroğlu contested the growth figure Erdoğan mentioned, citing international data.
“I wonder where they got this [growth] figure? It was the prime minister who announced the figure first. I took a look at the IMF data, because [the government] tells us to look at international data to see the truth. Turkey was the 12th fastest-growing country in 2010, not the second. In 2011, Turkey has fallen to 15th fastest. Why doesn’t [Erdoğan] tell the people the truth? Isn’t it a duty of a politician to tell the people the truth?” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Touching on his remarks on the economic crisis in Greece, Kılıçdaroğlu said it was a crisis of “the rich.” It is harder to solve an economic crisis of rich people than of poor people, he said.
If Turkey’s economy were managed well, the government would not grant fiscal pardons for a sixth time, Kılıçdaroğlu said. These were pardons granted to citizens who were unable to pay taxes or social insurance premiums, he said, adding that “hot money” was managing the economy. Kılıçdaroğlu said Turkey was 18th-largest economy in the world, down three places from where it was in 1998. The $500 billion exports target for 2023, the 100th anniversary of the republic, is not enough, he said, because Turkey holds greater potential, according to his estimates.