Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) late on March 25 submitted a new omnibus bill to parliament, consisting of 39 articles, the state-owned Anadolu News Agency reported.
One of the articles of the bill which seeks imprisonment over news reports that are said to be damaging a company’s reputation has stirred a huge reaction among opposition figures.
The article in question demands a jail term from one year to three years as well as a judicial fine from 1,000 days to 2,000 days for anyone who "has deliberately created a reporting that could damage the reputation, wealth and trust of the company through the press or has published false news in this way."
According to the article, the same will be valid even if the name of the relevant company is not mentioned in the news report. If a private or public harm arises as a result of this report, the penalty to be imposed will be increased by one sixth.
Opposition figures have said that the bill aims to protect companies that have close links to the government.
“To say 'gang of five' has been now banned,” Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Group Deputy Chair Meral Danış Beştaş said in a press conference in parliament on March 28, referring to five construction companies that are granted big tenders by the government, the daily BirGün reported.
“Does anyone trust the 'gang of five' besides you? This gang descended on citizens of Turkey like a nightmare at the hands of the AKP. A special law has been introduced for them. Law proposals are being drafted based on this gang. On top of that, tax proposals are based on this gang. How many times have the laws been changed for this gang? We can't even count. What shall we say instead of gang? We call the gang a gang, and a thief a thief,” Beştaş said.
These five companies dominate the private-public partnership (PPP) projects, with the worth of their contracts amounting to more than a half of the total.
They are also granted tax incentives and exemptions.