20 Nisan 2011 Çarşamba

Turkish opposition chief Kılıçdaroğlu reveals economy agenda

Speaking to a group of reporters in Istanbul, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the Republican People's Party, or CHP, underlines the importance of the welfare state and sustainable growth. The government's economic policies serve to enrich only a wealthy minority, he says, promising to create nearly 800,000 new jobs in a few years
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu reveals the economic aspect of the election strategy of his Republican People’s Party, or CHP, ahead of the June 12 polls. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu reveals the economic aspect of the election strategy of his Republican People’s Party, or CHP, ahead of the June 12 polls. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL
Main opposition chief Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu continued the emphasis he has placed on social and economic problems since being elected leader, revealing the economic aspect of the party’s election strategy Wednesday ahead of the June polls.

The Republican People’s Party, or CHP’s, new strategy focuses on the welfare state, sustainable growth and the fight against poverty.

“We will bury poverty in history. We will bring sustainability to the Turkish economy,” Kılıçdaroğlu told a group of journalists in Istanbul.

The CHP formulated its economic policy suggestions through negotiations with various nongovernmental organizations and experts, he said.

Among the members of the team are Müslüm Sarı, a former Central Bank official; Kenan Şimşek, a former official of the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency, or BRSA; and Aykut Erdoğdu, a former Treasury undersecretary. All three are candidates in the June 12 elections.

Describing the country’s current economic model as one that is “dependent on the exports of imported intermediate goods,” Kılıçdaroğlu said the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, government has not pursued an efficient income distribution policy.

Reminded of government officials’ statements on fast economic growth, he said: “Yes, we are growing. But that’s only a small number of wealthy [people].”

Turkey’s gross domestic product, or GDP, grew by 8.9 percent in 2010 after severely contracting in 2009.

Aiming high

The CHP is aiming to boost GDP to $2.6 trillion while increasing average per-capita income to $31,500 by 2023, Kılıçdaroğlu said. His 2023 export target is $650 billion, compared to the AKP’s target of surpassing $500 billion.

The opposition leader said the CHP aims to create nearly 800,000 new jobs for the country’s young population through no-interest loans to small- and medium-sized enterprises. The party also has its eye on cutting the unemployment rate from the current level of above 11 percent to 6 percent “in the next few years,” he said.

The party will also implement gradual tax cuts for small companies, Kılıçdaroğlu told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review. Diesel prices would be fixed to 1.5 Turkish Lira per liter for farmers, he said – a promise that could cost $5.2 billion annually.

Kılıçdaroğlu described his “family insurance” proposal as a key aspect of a social safety net that is implemented in developed countries. It stipulates between 600 and 1,250 liras of monthly state aid to poor families. “The project would cost approximately 8.5 billion liras,” he said.

According to official data, there are 12.7 million Turkish citizens who live below the poverty line.

“We have the sources for all our projects,” said Faik Öztrak, the CHP’s deputy president, responding to criticism from the ruling party. He said the AKP has not yet revealed the sources for its projects announced by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on April 16.

Emphasizing the goals of a sustainable economy and raising economic competitiveness, Kılıçdaroğlu said a “Financial Stability Board” should be formed with the participation of the Turkish Central Bank, the BRSA, the Treasury Undersecretariat and the Finance Ministry.

Position on nuclear energy

Commenting on Turkey’s dependency on imported energy, Kılıçdaroğlu said the CHP “aims [to implement] top-quality nuclear power that utilizes high technology” in the long term. He claimed the planned Akkuyu nuclear-energy plant in the Mediterranean province of Mersin could have cost half the announced cost of more than $20 billion.

The CHP’s new economy strategy foresees raising employment levels though various incentives for new investments in Southeast Anatolia. “We will turn the region into a logistics hub for the Middle East,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, emphasizing planned investments in the petrochemical and textile sectors.
“We will give more incentives for textiles than those in Egypt,” he said.

Kılıçdaroğlu’s target for the region is 9.5 percent GDP growth, while his national growth target is 7 percent.
Responding to an article published Wednesday by The Independent newspaper in Britain, which mentioned the name of Kemal Derviş among possible candidates to lead the International Monetary Fund, Kılıçdaroğlu said he would be “pleased to see one of our friends in such a position.”

Derviş, a former World Bank chief, served as the economy minister in Turkey during the era of the late Bülent Ecevit between 2001 and 2002. Speaking on Derviş’s post-crisis program, Kılıçdaroğlu said it was a mistake to follow that program for so many years after the recovery from the 2000-2001 crisis.

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