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Reports show public institutions failed to deposit TL 9 bln in earthquake relief donations

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The latest activity and financial reports of several state institutions, including state lender Ziraat Bank and the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF), have revealed that they have not yet deposited earthquake relief donations totaling approximately TL 9 billion ($342 million), the Diken news website reported on Monday.

The “Turkey One Heart” (Türkiye Tek Yürek Kampanyası), a fundraising event on live TV on Feb. 15, raised some TL 115.1 billion ($4.3 billion) from mainly corporate donors for the victims of devastating earthquakes that hit southern and southeastern Turkey on Feb. 6, claiming more than 50,000 lives.

Turkish Vice President Cevdet Yılmaz last week announced that the funds received had reached TL 85 billion ($3.2 billion) but failed to provide information about the remaining TL 30 billion (1.1 million) and which institutions and organizations had not yet forwarded the promised funds.

According to Diken, which examined the latest activity and financial reports of the public institutions, nearly TL 9 billion of the donations’ remaining portion has not been paid by Ziraat Bank; Vakıf Katılım bank; public insurance companies Türkiye Sigorta and Türkiye Hayat Emeklilik; TMSF; Turkcell, a telecommunication and technology services provider; and Emlak Konut, Turkey’s largest real estate investment trust company.

Diken said Ziraat Bank, which had announced a donation of TL 1 billion, has deposited only TL 600 million of that amount, according to the latest reports, while reports from Vakıf Katılım did not mention the TL 1 billion donation promised by the bank during the fundraising event.

Although Türkiye Sigorta and Türkiye Hayat Emeklilik had announced a donation of TL 2 billion in total, the latest reports gave no information about this amount in the institutions’ financial reports.

TMSF, which also promised to make a donation of TL 2 billion, neglected to provide any information about it in its reports covering the past three months, according to Diken.

Diken also revealed that Emlak Konut has not yet deposited TL 300 million of the promised TL 1 billion donation, while Turkcell, which announced a donation of TL 3.5 billion during the fundraising event, did not mention this information in its financial reports. According to the reports, the company’s quarterly donations amount to just over TL 104 million, the scope which is unknown.

Back in February, the state institutions drew criticism from opposition politicians and economists who questioned the reasoning behind the taxpayer-funded government institutions’ donations.

The main argument was that using taxpayer money to donate to an aid campaign is nothing to boast about and that such donations would have been acceptable only if they had come from the institutions’ staff itself.

In early July the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), rejected a parliamentary motion by the main opposition Republican People’s Party to investigate how the donations were spent and whether they were used to meet the needs of the earthquake victims due to past experiences when the government used donations in the aftermath of such tragedies for other purposes.

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