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Palace devours money: TRY 2 million annually on cleaning alone

The Court of Accounts report lays bare the funds transferred to the Presidency and the Palace. With the Palace spending two million lira on cleaning alone, when all items are combined, it is hard even to articulate the amount.
Yayınlanma tarihi: 03 Ekim 2017 Salı, 17:20

Sinan Tartanoğlu
 
With debate in full swing in Turkey over economic issues like increased taxes and the foreign trade deficit, the Palace’s expenses as revealed in the Court of Accounts’ report into the Presidency are jaw dropping. According to the report, President Tayyip Erdoğan’s salary rose in 2016 from TRY 43,750 to TRY 49,250. Under the 2017 budget, however, Erdoğan receives TRY 53,300 per month. The “Confidential Service Expenses” item that is known as the Palace’s “undisclosed payments” and stood at TRY 150 million in 2015 was kept confidential in the 2016 report. In 2015, in which two elections were held, the amount spent on the presidential staff’s domestic and foreign travel was TRY 9,995,495, while it rose to 10,231,758 in 2016 in which there were no polls.
 
“Confidential service” kept confidential
 
It is noteworthy that the “Confidential Service Expenses” item, known as the Palace’s “undisclosed payments” in the Court of Accounts presidential report for 2015, were not included in the 2016 report. The presidency’s undisclosed payments were made confidential under a statutory provision passed on 7 March 2015. The provision paved the way for payments in the presidential budget to be set and applied under presidential decree. This has also been interpreted as meaning that the presidential undisclosed payments remain confidential. However, the item in question still appeared in the Court of Accounts report as expenditure of 150 million in 2015.
 
The Palace’s secrets
 
Many items in the tables contained in the 2015 Court of Accounts report did not appear in the 2016 report. Items like the cost of water consumed, heating expenses, electricity expenses and internet costs were kept confidential. In their place, a “purchase of goods and materials for consumption” item was identified and expenditure under this item was stated to be TRY 26,489,093. According to the report, TRY 63,822,525 was spent under the item of the Palace’s service purchases. As to the presidential staff’s treatment and funeral expenses, these accounted for expenditure of TRY 253,986.
 
President Erdoğan was paid a monthly salary of TRY 49,250 in 2016. A total of TRY 525,000 was spent in 2015 under the item of presidential remuneration. This means that President Tayyip Erdoğan increased his salary from TRY 43,750 to TRY 49,250 in one year. As to Erdoğan’s 2017 salary, this showed up in the budget as TRY 639,600 on an annual basis. In other words, Erdoğan has increased his salary by about TRY 10,000 in three years.
 
Cleaning: two million lira
 
The Palace spent a total of TRY 2,160,927 on “medical and laboratory consumables” in 2016. As to the Palace’s “cleaning expenses”, these amounted to TRY 2,048,921. The Presidency spent TRY 728,935 on tyres for the transport vehicles it used. The amount of TRY 267,565 was spent on the Presidency’s “fuel, fuel additives and additive oils” item in 2015, with the corresponding amount in the 2016 tables being TRY 327,488.
 
TRY 1,216,000 on the kitchen
The Palace’s stationery costs were TRY 1,540,858 in 2016. As to the Palace’s “food and consumables for food purposes and used in the kitchen” item, this accounted for TRY 1,216,063 over the course of the year.
 
Extra 134 million for intelligence agents
 
Expenditure on the National Intelligence Agency’s intelligence staff amounted to TRY 768,877,111. The corresponding amount shown in the tables for 2015 was TRY 634,474,623. The amount spent on intelligence agents thus rose by TRY 134,402,488 from 2015 to 2016.
 
Travel expenses
 
The cost in 2015 of the domestic and foreign travel of Erdoğan’s presidential staff, who were on the campaign trail for the two general elections, was shown to be TRY 9,995,495 in the Court of Accounts report. There was no distinction between domestic and foreign in the “travel” item in the 2016 Court of Accounts report. Despite the absence of election campaigning in 2016, the presidential staff’s total travel expenses were TRY 10,231,758.
 
Events: 31 million
 
Over 2016, TRY 31,072,667 was spent on all manner of ceremony, fair and organisational expenditure required for events and hospitality at President Erdoğan’s discretion. This amount appeared in the 2015 Court of Accounts report as 30,648,492 lira. The transfer amounting in 2015 to TRY 4,150,000 to non-profit-making entities associations, confederations, institutes, institutions and funds came to TRY 7,146,230 in 2016. As to the three and a half million lira that was spent in 2015 on the “transfers to households” item that attracted much criticism as being “Palace aid”, this came to TRY 4,226,000 in 2016. The Presidency had previously announced that this aid was made “to a limited number of needy people in line with information emanating from provincial governates” and that this had nothing to do with undisclosed payments.
 
Prime-Ministerial travel: eleven million lira
 
According the Court of Accounts’ 2015 Prime-Ministerial audit report, on the other hand, the Prime-Ministerial staff spent TRY 11,205,964 on domestic and foreign travel. The Prime-Ministry purchased stationery worth TRY 2,201,561, while the Prime-Ministry’s “kitchen expenses” were TRY 241,510. The Prime-Ministry spent TRY 62,211 on cleaning.
 
The Radio and Television Supreme Council imposes fines, but ..
 
It appeared from the Court of Accounts’ 2016 Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTSC) report that the amount imposed in fines for breaches of broadcasting principles totalled TRY 2,246,526. However, the Court of Accounts has established that the RTSC did not chase up these amounts due to it. The ensuing impropriety was accounted for in the Court of Accounts report by saying, “In the inspection conducted, it was established that, even though the institution had TRY 12,035,649 due to it that should have been collected in periods following the 2016 operating period, no records were made.” The Supreme Council, in turn, offered the defence that, “Implementation began of a web-based payment system for managing the payments system in a way that would encompass administrative fines and the income levying application had not yet been initiated in the said software.”

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