Lawmakers respond to AKP legislative proposal: 'We might as well close the parliament and leave'

Opposition lawmakers have responded harshly to the ruling coalition’s legislative proposal, which puts an end to inflation calculation until 2023, does away with taxes on currency-protected TL accounts, and gives unlimited power to the President to issue TOKİ tenders.

Duvar English

Opposition lawmakers are condemning a new legislative package that gives the ruling coalition sweeping powers, including the ability to price Housing Development Administration (TOKİ) tenders freely and puts an end to inflation calculation and taxes on currency-protected Turkish Lira deposit accounts.

The right of the Presidency to determine pricing on TOKİ tenders and a proposal to restructure pricing for private contractors working in the public sector - many of whom are allies of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) - given the currency crisis drew particular ire from opposition lawmakers.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) Group Deputy Chairman Engin Altay objected to the package and called for a parliamentary roll call, closing parliament effectively until Jan. 18. 

The contract and pricing restructure would issue the amount of “price difference” incurred on contracts made before December 1, 2021, due to the rise in the currency. This would apply to 26,789 contracts, many of which are held by AKP allies. According to the proposed legislation, the government would pay an additional 10.5 billion Turkish Liras to these contractors in total.

Opposition parties rejected this, saying that the legislative package gave the President and his allies sweeping, arbitrary, and unpredictable powers. 

The TOKİ clause, snuck into the package at the last moment, was also cause for concern for the opposition. The “price difference” determined for these public projects would be determined by the Presidency and agreements would be made on an ad-hoc basis.

“Different arrangements can be made by the President of the Republic, without being subject to the limitations in this article, for contracts that were tendered by the Housing Development Administration before 1/12/2021,” the proposed legislation writes.

People’s Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Garo Paylan criticized the use of the term “different arrangements.”

“‘Different arrangements can be made’, what does that mean? According to what will these arrangements be made? Is there such a law?” he said.

Chairman Altay said the doors of parliament may as well be locked, and the Parliament declared a “dysfunctional, symbolic organ” if this law were to pass.

“We can never consent to this. In this country, the President cannot be given such broad and unlimited authority by law, let alone in a country ruled by the world's greatest dictator,” he said.