REVISES DECK; UPDATES WITH NATIONALIST MOVEMENT PARTY AND PEOPLES' DEMOCRATIC PARTY LAWMAKERS' REMARKS
By Emin Avundukluoglu
ANKARA (AA) - A Turkish opposition lawmaker on Monday criticized the 2022 budget proposed by the government.
"There’s no hope for the future in this budget, and there’s no happiness for our people," Musavat Dervisoglu, deputy parliamentary group chair of the Good (IYI) Party, told lawmakers on the first day of debate over next year’s budget.
Noting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s absence from the chamber, Dervisoglu said: "The owner of this budget isn’t here either. The president isn’t coming to present his own budget."
"A president who can't take the trouble to defend his own budget will of course be controversial," he added.
Vice President Fuat Oktay presented the country's proposed 2022 budget to parliament on Monday.
The IYI party's other deputy parliamentary group chair criticized recent references in Turkish politics to the "China model" of development, amid claims the ruling party is emulating this model.
"China crushed labor 40 years ago, but they invested wisely. They turned the country into a production base. Our investments are not even half of theirs relative to national income," said Erhan Usta, a lawmaker from the Black Sea province of Samsun.
Usta argued that while China turned itself into an investment and production base, Turkish authorities turned the country "into a pile of concrete."
"They did central planning, and we abolished the State Planning Organization," he added.
The government's budget proposal projects 1.75 trillion liras ($135.4 billion) in expenditures and 1.472 billion liras ($113.9 million) in revenues for next year.
It places the country's deficit at 278 billion liras (nearly $21 billion).
This will be the 20th budget bill under a Justice and Development (AK) Party government, which has been in power for nearly two decades.
-‘More than inflation, interest rates’
The Nationalist Movement Party's (MHP) deputy parliamentary group chair called for single-digit inflation in Turkey.
"Monetary and fiscal policies should be maintained in harmony and inflation should be reduced to single digits, and we believe that it will be," said Erkan Akcay, a lawmaker from the western province of Manisa.
Akcay said the government’s economic policy is the right one.
"To claim that the economy is sinking just by evaluating the dollar (exchange) rate and interest is a lie, it is black propaganda," he added.
Recent jumps in inflation and losses in the value of the Turkish currency, the lira, have led opposition parties to attack the government's economic policy, including interest rate cuts.
Erdogan has said the rate cuts are part of his "new economic model" and a "war of economic liberation" for Turkey.
"Interest rates are the reason, inflation is the result," Erdogan has argued, pledging that his policies will lead to high growth and broad-based prosperity.
Amid rising inflation, Erdogan has promised measures to help low-income citizens "whose purchasing power has decreased."
-Call for early elections
The co-chair of the opposition Peoples' Democratic Party's (HDP) called for early elections in Turkey.
"Parliament should take the initiative in this regard; the decision of an early election should be taken in this parliament as soon as possible," Mithat Sancar, a lawmaker from the southeastern province of Mardin, told lawmakers.
"We reiterate our call to all opposition parties. Let's bring an early election bill here together without any delay," he said.
The other HDP co-chair claimed that Turkey has now entered an election process.
"If you have confidence in your policy, if you have courage, bring the ballot box right away and let the people decide," urged Pervin Buldan, a lawmaker from Istanbul, addressing the government.
"The election conditions have already been formed," she added.
President Erdogan has repeatedly dismissed demands from the opposition for early elections, saying the next elections will be held on schedule in 2023.