Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Erdogan uses Turkey’s $128 billion reserves to disburse gifts to AKP members, rewarding loyalty

Last week, the Turkey’s opposition party launched a nation-wide campaign demanding the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)to disclose where it spent the country’s massive foreign reserves worth $128 billion. The Republican People’s Party (CHP) pressed for a probe into the missing reserves stating that Turkish people had the constitutional right to know how the government spent the tax payers’ hard earned money. To save its face, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government, blamed it on coronavirus and plummeting lira. His administration said that the authorities utilised the reserves in combatting Covid-19 pandemic and in stabilising Lira.

But few days into the digging, the government claims were found to be untrue. Inside sources revealed that Turkish premier had been celebrating the loyalty of his party members by disbursing gifts and rewards to them, using the country’s foreign reserves. It reflected the ruling AKP leader’s disregard for the country’s well-being whose currency has been plummeting down at record rate. Turkey is currently battling one its worst economic crisis, with Lira hitting its lowest mark since August 2018.

There also surfaced reports linking Naci Agbal, the Central Bank’s former governor,  and the missing reserves. It was said that Agbal, who was fired last month by the Turkish president, was asked to leave after he tried to launch an investigation into the matter of missing reserves. Agbal was replaced by Sahap Kavcioglu. So far the country has had four central bank governors in the period of last two years. The country’s current level reserves was said to the around $43.2 billion.

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Kamil Oktay Sindir, a CHP member, questioned the lack of clarity around the country’s missing reserves, hinting at the the level corrupting and financial transparency, currently prevailing in the system. Sindir also stressed how the government exempted various public-private partnership projects from the audit of Turkey’s Court of Accounts. The opposition lawmakers stated that the most frustrating aspect of the current governance was the state of the country’s judiciary, which over the time had lost its relevance and independence and, hence stands only to provide impunity to corrupt state officials. The Washington Post in its recent opinion article examined who the Turkish judiciary has been reduced to a mere ploy in the hands of the ruling to get things done and silence the dissenting voices.