Pressure builds on Gül to veto pension increase

Pressure builds on Gül to veto pension increase

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
Pressure builds on Gül to veto pension increase

Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay speaks to reporters. Günay issued a veiled appeal for President Abdullah Gül to veto the legislation, whose hasty adoption in Parliament triggered widespread criticism among politicians in Ankara. AA photo

Turkey’s main opposition has said it will ask the Constitutional Court to scrap a controversial law hiking the lawmakers’ pensions if President Abdullah Gül does not veto the bill.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chair Birgül Ayman Güler made the announcement yesterday after the party disowned the bill. The CHP also set up a commission to find out how CHP signatures ended up on the proposal backing the hike during last week’s debate in Parliament and decide disciplinary sanctions for those responsible.

Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay also issued a veiled appeal for Gül to veto the legislation, whose hasty adoption in Parliament triggered widespread criticism and squabbles among politicians in Ankara.

“It would be against my self-respect if I don’t say that I feel resentment on the issue,” Günay said yesterday, in comments on the legislation, which lawmakers rushed through Parliament Dec. 22 before going into yearend recess.

Stressing that ordinary retirees have their pensions cut if they continue to work, Günay said, “It’s against common practices for a deputy to receive pension without any stoppage. I think the president will take this into account.”

The amendments, which raised lawmaker pensions from 4,980 to about 8,000 Turkish Liras, were passed without any debate around midnight Dec. 22. An initial proposal fixing the pensions to 40 percent of the president’s salary was followed by a second one that raised the rate to 60 percent. 
The bill also scrapped cuts from the lawmakers’ salaries who simultaneously receive pensions for previous parliamentary terms, bringing the total sum they would get to 19,290 liras.

All four parties in Parliament were initially said to have backed the amendments, but the CHP voiced indignation the following day, arguing that it had supported only the initial increase, which had been intended to equalize the pensions of lawmakers who went into retirement in different periods. The party said Tanju Özcan and Ahmet Toptaş, the two CHP deputies who signed the second proposal, would face disciplinary sanctions.

CHP deputy group chairman Akif Hamzaçebi said yesterday they only supported the proposal that intended to make up the difference between the pensions of former and incumbent Parliament members, but opposed the second one which increased the pensions. He insisted he had instructed Özcan to withdraw his signature from the second proposal.

The other CHP deputy group chair, Emine Ülker Tarhan, explained that her party’s members had even left the General Assembly in protest after the second proposal was lodged, and later all CHP deputies, except one person, voted against the proposal.

Gül refused to answer questions on the issue when journalists sought his comment at an award ceremony at Çankaya Palace yesterday.