Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım have used a total of TL 747 million (around $170 million) from discretionary funds allocated for their use from the state budget in the first four months of 2018, according to a story in the Sözcü daily on Wednesday.
The amount Erdoğan and Yıldırım used from the discretionary funds in April alone was TL 203 million (around $52 million).
Sözcü based its story on data recently announced by the Finance Ministry about the state budget.
Discretionary funds are allocated to the president, the government or state organs from a yearly state budget. Users of discretionary funds are offered some guidelines as to how they will use these funds but also enjoy flexibility in their use. These funds are not for a particular project. Discretionary funds can be used without approval from Parliament or any other state institution and are seen as tools to help the government achieve its goals without spending much time on bureaucratic work.
In March 2015, a regulation granting a discretionary fund for the presidency was passed as part of a government-sponsored omnibus bill in the Turkish Parliament despite objection from opposition parties.
The president is able to use the fund “for state necessities that contain discreet intelligence and defense services; the national security and higher interests of the state; political, social and cultural purposes; and extraordinary services,” according to the regulation, which made changes to the Public Finance Management and Control Law, which provides the discretionary fund for the prime ministry.
At the time the opposition parties objected to the regulation, claiming that Erdoğan aims to gain control over the Turkish National Intelligence Agency (MİT) with the fund, which was tied to the Prime Ministry back then.
MİT was subordinated to the presidency in August 2017.
In the meantime, Turkey’s budget deficit between the period of January and April increased by 29.6 percent and reached TL 23.2 billion. The country’s budget deficit was TL 17.9 billion in the same period last year, according to data from the Finance Ministry.