Turkey like ‘Robin Hood’ for the poor

Turkey like ‘Robin Hood’ for the poor

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey like ‘Robin Hood’ for the poor

Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek likens Turkey’s tax policies to a Robin Hood, providing help to the poor. Turkey taxes oil to subsidize education and health, he says.

Turkey has a Robin Hood-style tax system in place for the poor, which could be a model for the Arab Spring countries, Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek has said at a panel discussion in Washington D.C.

“We implement heavy taxes for products like petroleum, and we use this money to subsidize education and health for the poor,” said Şimşek at a discussion titled “Political Economy of Subvention Reform: Lessons for the Middle East and North Africa,” held as part of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington D.C. on April 19. 

Petroleum accounts for 30 percent of Turkey’s tax revenues, Şimşek said. Turkey favors support instead of general subvention for all people, leading to benefits for both the rich and the poor. 

Şimşek outlined Turkey’s policy of providing a monthly stipend to low income families so that they may send their children to school. He also spoke about the country’s policy of giving special cards to the poor, which give them increased access to health care. In addition, Turkey has social programs in place to support the disabled in terms of education and care. 

“In ten years we have increased our social programs, but not for the public in general. We target the people who really need aid, those that are poor,” said Şimşek. 

An investigation has been launched into a tax evasion scheme in the sale of 40,000 luxury automobiles which took place between January 2007 and November 2011, Şimşek said. Certain luxury car distributors reported the luxury cars as more economic models in order to pay a lower tax on the vehicles, he said. 

“The Tax Auditing Board’s findings will lead to greater scrutiny in order to prevent tax losses from luxury car sales,” Şimşek said.