Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), voted down a bill to prevent public officials from being paid two or more salaries under different state job titles, local media reported on Wednesday.
The AKP and its leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, are widely criticized by the opposition for getting its cronies paid several salaries, a practice that has sparked public outrage amid the country’s struggling economy.
The list of AKP bureaucrats who are paid two or three salaries under different state job titles were revealed by an opposition lawmaker back in June, with the total salaries of some of them exceeding even Erdoğan’s monthly salary of TL 88,000 ($9,270).
The bill rejected by the AKP and MHP was proposed by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Ali Fazıl Kasap, who again listed all the AKP bureaucrats receiving several salaries prior to holding the vote.
“It’s a reality in Turkey that some public officials, bureaucrats and deputy ministers collect salaries and attendance fees approaching TL 150,000-200,000 ($15,000-21,000) in total under three to five job titles every month. You even have a bureaucrat who receives salaries from 11 different entities in total. This is heartless,” Kasap said, addressing the ruling party.
Also speaking after the legislation was rejected, Kasap said: “While millions of citizens are struggling with unemployment and millions more are trying to live on a minimum wage, the People’s Alliance [AKP and MHP] said yes to [bureaucrats collecting] more than one salary! Shame on you.”
A survey by MetroPOLL showed earlier this year that even AKP supporters disapprove of this cronyism. Sixty-one percent of AKP supporters do not approve of bureaucrats and AKP advisors being paid more than one salary by different companies or state agencies, while this disapproval figure climbs to 89 percent among CHP voters, 85.5 percent among pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) voters and 72.6 percent among MHP voters, according to the poll.
The unemployment rate in Turkey averaged 10.58 percent from 2005 until 2021, reaching an all-time high of 14.40 percent in July 2020. It was 12.1 percent in August, according to the latest data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat).
There is growing criticism of the government over people’s financial difficulties, which have worsened during the pandemic and with the continuing depreciation of the Turkish lira.
Official data released earlier this month showed Turkey’s annual inflation rising to 19.58 percent in September, its highest in two-and-a-half years. Inflation has been in double digits for most of the past five years.