Nergis Demirkaya / DUVAR

Two opposition parties criticized a 40-article draft law the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) submitted to parliament which seeks to amend the country’s banking legislation.

Though the government attempted to swiftly push through the legislation, it drew much criticism from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP). 

“It is clear that this proposal has been prepared under the guise of technical regulations in order to avoid the realities of significant issues that the government cannot tackle such as unemployment, suicides caused by poverty, an sluggish economy, the rescue operations of public banks to save companies close to the government, and the Wealth Fund’s hidden transactions,” said the CHP in a written response to the bill. 

“Some of the amendments in the proposal seek to pave a legal path towards suppressing dissenting voices in the economic realm and force citizens and under-pressure financial institutions to become the partners of unscientific and unsound projects that are almost certain to cause harm,” the party added, referring to the controversial Kanal Istanbul project. 

Kanal Istanbul, which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan dubs his “crazy project,” aims to slice up a section of Istanbul’s European side and carve out an artificial shipping canal between the Black and Marmara Seas. The government says this is an effort to alleviate traffic on the Bosphorus strait though environmentalists and activists have blasted the project as disastrous.

In spite of Turkey’s economic troubles, Erdoğan has made it clear that he intends to go forward with the project.

In its response to the banking bill, the HDP said that the government is pushing the legislation to use the country’s sovereign Wealth Fund to finance the Kanal Istanbul project. The party also said that new regulations that would take 5 percent of the annual earnings of banks deemed to have “engaged in manipulative operations” would result in the exodus of banks owned and operated by foreign partners.