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Erdoğan spent a record $35 million from discretionary funds in November

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan used a total of TL 279 million ($35 million) of discretionary funds allocated for his use in November, a 14-fold increase over October, according to a Wednesday news report by the Birgün daily.

Citing state budget data recently announced by the Finance Ministry, Birgün said the president spent a total of TL 279 million ($35 million) in November, compared to 20 million ($2.5 million) in October, using a total of TL 1.8 billion ($231 million) from discretionary funds in the first 11 months of 2020.

President Erdoğan spent TL 220 million ($28.2 million) in January, TL 222 million ($28.5 million) in March, TL 223 million ($28.6 million) in June, TL 273 million ($35 million) in July and TL 254 million ($32.6 million) in September from discretionary funds in 2020.

The 2021 budget for the fund is TL 14.1 billion ($1.8 billion).

Despite objection from opposition parties, a regulation granting a discretionary fund to the presidency was passed in March 2015 as part of a government-sponsored omnibus bill in the Turkish Parliament.

According to the regulation, which made changes to the Public Finance Management and Control Law that provides the discretionary fund for the prime ministry, 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.”

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. The 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 the meantime the central government’s budget expenditures in November totaled TL 96.3 billion ($12.3 billion), up 27.5 percent compared to the same month last year. The country’s budget expenditures from January to November 2020 hit TL 1.6 trillion ($205 billion), up 18.8 percent on an annual basis.

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