Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate is expected to spend an amount equal to the minimum wage every seven seconds of 2021, according to a calculation based on the budget allocated by the state to the country’s top religious authority for the year 2021, the Birgün daily reported on Tuesday.
According to the report the directorate will spend the annual earnings of a minimum wage worker in just a minute and 24 seconds.
The Turkish presidency will spend the minimum wage every 22 seconds in 2021, the report also said. Based on the same calculation, the presidency is expected to spend the annual earnings of a minimum wage worker in four minutes and 24 seconds.
The budget of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate for 2021 is TL 12.9 billion ($1.74 billion), which is higher than that of seven ministries, while the presidency has a budget of TL 4.039 billion ($545 million) for the same year, with a 28.1 percent increase over 2020.
Turkey’s net minimum wage for 2021 is TL 2,826 ($381), the lowest figure in US dollars for a monthly net minimum wage in the last 11 years.
The Birgün report said the presidential salary for 2021 is 31 times the net minimum wage for the same year.
According to a recent report based on Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) data, a minimum wage worker in an average family of four who earned TL 2,435 ($327) for 2020 was expected to spend as little as TL 1.85 ($0.25) for each meal of a family member, which amounts to a daily outlay of only TL 22 ($2.96) for food for the household.
Burak Erbay, an MP from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), criticized the Religious Affairs Directorate for its extravagant spending during budget talks in parliament earlier in December, comparing the directorate’s expenditures on employees to well-known pharma companies.
“Pfizer, which operates in 175 countries, has around 96,000 employees and BioNtech has 300,000. The Religious Affairs Directorate, on the other hand, has 131,789 employees,” Erbay said.
The opposition MP also mentioned an expertise center built by the directorate for TL 40 million ($5.1 million). “It has a [Turkish] bath and a steam room. You allocated TL 2.7 million ($348,000) just for the landscaping.”