At a time when the Turkish economy is experiencing a currency crisis due to a more than 40 percent loss in value of the Turkish lira since the beginning of the year, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will enjoy using TL 16.5 billion in discretionary funds between 2019 and 2021, Turkish media reports said on Friday.
In a Middle-Term Fiscal Plan drafted by the Ministry of Treasury and Finance, which is led by Erdoğan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak, estimates of the amount of discretionary funds Erdoğan can use in the next three years have been included.
The Middle-Term Fiscal Plan went into effect after it was published in the Official Gazette on Thursday.
The plan’s main aim is to maintain stability in prices and the economy as well to enforce budgetary discipline.
The upper limit allocated from the state budget for Erdoğan’s use as discretionary funds corresponds to five per thousand of total spending in the budget.
According to the plan, the amount of total spending estimated for the year 2019 is TL 961 billion, for 2020 TL 1112.4 billion and for 2021 TL 1230.9. The amount of discretionary funds to be used by Erdoğan in 2019 is estimated at TL 4.8 billion, TL 5.5 billion in 2020 and TL 6.1 billion in 2021, or a total of TL 16.5 billion in three years.
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 may 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 objections 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 provided the discretionary fund for the now-defunct prime ministry.
At the time opposition parties objected to the regulation, claiming that Erdoğan was aiming to gain control of the National Intelligence Organization (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.