Turkish ministry to spend $400 bln to strengthen weak buildings

Turkish ministry to spend $400 bln to strengthen weak buildings

Tarık Işık - Neşe Karanfil ANKARA / Radikal

A new account for “preparation for natural disasters” will be added to the state budget, according to a draft law prepared by the Environment and Urban Planning Ministry, in a bid to strengthen buildings and infrastructure in Turkey against natural disasters.

The draft forecasts the creation of a new budget account to finance gentrification projects to increase buildings’ resistance against disasters, instead of introducing a related tax, as was the case after the 1999 earthquake in the northwestern province of Kocaeli’s Gölcük district. The decision comes after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that “illegally constructed buildings will be demolished, even if they cost the [current government’s] stay in power.” The prime minister made the statement after hundreds of people lost their lives in the recent earthquakes in the eastern province of Van.

Money from fees and tax revenues will be transferred to the “natural disaster account.” The amount of revenue deposited into the account will differ in accordance with each province’s exposure to natural disasters. Income from the sale of undefined public land will also be used as revenue for this account.

The collected funds will be used “only for preparations for possible disasters,” as put in the draft law. The Urban Planning Ministry will first try to reach an agreement with citizens, to strengthen buildings against disasters. Unless consensus is reached, the ministry will have the “emergency power” to seize and nationalize the property.

The disaster account will be managed by the ministry. Funds

from this account will partly cover repair expenses at rates decided by the Finance

Ministry. The share of costs covered by the disaster account will not exceed 10 percent of buildings cost in earthquake-prone regions and 5 percent in other locations.