Turkey edges toward ‘intense corruption’ status in global index

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ANKARA: Turkey was edging closer to being branded as a country run in an environment of “intense corruption,” a global report has revealed.
Transparency International’s latest Worldwide Corruption Perception Index (CPI) ranked Turkey 86th out of 180 countries and warned that the nation was losing ground in defeating dishonesty and fraud in high places.
The survey’s status grading system showed the country was only 40 points away from falling into the index’s “intense corruption” category.
Index publisher Transparency International said that broad consultation in political decision-making was associated with lower levels of corruption.
On Turkey’s case, the report said: “There is little space for consultative decision-making in the country. The government recently cracked down on NGOs, closing at least 1,500 foundations and associations and seizing their assets, while continuing to harass, arrest, and prosecute civil society leaders.”
Oya Ozarslan, chairwoman of Transparency International’s Turkish branch, pointed out the worrying trend in Turkey’s backsliding in the fight against corruption.
She told Arab News: “Worldwide CPI 2020 results indicate that democracy in countries is directly related to corruption.
“Countries governed by dictators and authoritarian regimes or frequently experiencing human rights violations, conflicts, chaos, and wars are the countries that are performing badly in the CPI, usually scoring less than 50 out of 100.”
In assessing Turkey’s index ranking, Transparency International focused on nepotism, bribes, and the inclination for giving state tenders to pro-government companies.
The ownership by government officials of several businesses was commonplace in Turkey regardless of criticisms about conflict of interests.
The country’s Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy drew public anger last year after becoming the new owner of the luxurious Hilton hotel in the resort town of Bodrum.
Turkey’s Education Minister Ziya Selcuk owns one of the biggest private school chains in the country, while Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has a chain of private hospitals.
Meanwhile, the Turkish health ministry’s tender for the preservation and distribution of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines was given to a company investigated three years ago by the country’s Court of Accounts over the spoiling of 1.6 million doses of measles and rubella vaccines which came at a cost of 11.3 million liras ($1.5 million) to the public purse.
“When we compared CPI results with the health care spending of each country, we saw striking results. Countries that are fighting better against corruption spend more on health care,” Ozarslan said.
Separately, after candidates from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) ousted the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) nominees from Ankara and Istanbul municipalities in the 2019 Turkish local elections, the decades-long patronage system in the two cities came under the spotlight.
The mayors of both cities claimed that several public works projects were outsourced to pro-government private companies, resulting in unnecessary expenditure using public resources.
“The recently elected mayors of municipalities like Ankara and Istanbul give very positive messages on transparency with their practices. Transparency was the main slogan they used to reach out to the masses in these cities and they pursued very innovative approaches in the fight against corruption that were appraised by the people,” Ozarslan added.
In January, Istanbul mayor and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s long-time challenger, Ekrem Imamoglu, submitted 35 files about alleged previous irregularities. The municipality was also working on 40 other corruption files covering transactions carried out when the municipality was governed by an AKP-affiliated mayor.
In December, the mayor of Ankara, Mansur Yavas, filed a criminal complaint about alleged irregularities involving executives of the previously AKP-led municipality over the purchase of malfunctioning “rotating telehandlers.”
Ozarslan said such moves by the municipalities would set a precedent for the way politics was done in the country, with the prospect of “clean politics” gaining ground. “People who are fed up with corruption allegations can support this new transparent governance approach,” she added.

Source: Arab News

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