Turkey's new Finance Minister has no economics background, wrote his thesis on AKP

Turkey's new Finance Minister Nureddin Nebati is known for his closeness with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law, Berat Albayrak, who dramatically stepped down from the post last year. Nebati has no economics education, wrote his Ph.D. thesis on AKP organizations and has been receiving more than 65,000 Turkish Liras monthly with his combined public and private salary. 

Nebati (L) is seen during handover ceremony with former Minister Elvan on Dec 2.

Duvar English

As the Turkish economy continues to flounder, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan early on Dec. 2 dismissed Treasury and Finance Minister Lütfi Elvan, replacing him with staunch ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) supporter Nureddin Nebati.

The main opposition has revealed the new Minister, despite his total lack of economics education, is compensated more than 65,000 Turkish Liras monthly with his combined public and private salary. 

The Turkish economy has experienced a total meltdown in recent weeks as Erdoğan and the AKP have pursued an unfounded “low-interest-rate” policy. The lira reached an all-time high of 14.0 to the dollar on Dec. 30, and inflation is skyrocketing. The president insists that low-interest rates will, in the long run, decrease interest rates, but this is not founded in any known economic theory.

Recently dismissed minister Elvan, it was reported, as a more hawkish figure opposed this policy. Nebati, on the other hand, tweeted his full-fledged support for Erdoğan's “War of Economic Independence” this week, even as FX rates skyrocketed. The new Minister has no economics education to back this support but was appointed to the post in the wake of his support. 

Nebati said on Dec. 2 that the country will not prioritize high interest rates under the new economic model. In a handover ceremony, Nebati also said the new economic management will take steps to ensure a predictable market and economy. Turkey aims to log a current account surplus by supporting manufacturing, exports and investments, he added.

"Now, we have embarked on a new path with the vision of an economically independent Turkey, which our president and our nation have dreamed of for years. In this process, our most important priority while coming to office will not be high interest rates," he said. 

Nebati is a longtime AKP politician who served as Deputy Minister of Treasury and Finance under Minister Elvan. He is known for his closeness with former Treasury and Finance Minister and President Erdoğan’s son-in-law, Berat Albayrak, who dramatically stepped down from the post last year. Photos of Nebati recently eating in a restaurant with Albayrak, while Nebati was still working for Elvan, went viral in the past few days. 

Nebati (L) and Albayrak are seen at a restaurant. 

Minister Nebati was first elected as an AKP deputy in 2011 in Istanbul, then as a deputy in the southeastern Turkish province of Urfa. He also worked as the Head of Financial and Administrative Affairs and Deputy Chairman of AKP Headquarters. Despite this, he has no formal economics education: according to the Ministry of Treasury and Finance website, he graduated from Istanbul University’s Faculty of Political Sciences with a degree in Public Administration. He then completed a master’s degree in International relations at the same university and a Ph.D. in Political Science and Public Administration from Kocaeli University. 

He wrote his thesis on the AKP organizations under the name of "A comparative analysis of the outlook of the AKP organizations toward democratic values: From national vision to conservative democracy." 

Nebati is also active in the private sector, serving on the boards of the Private Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association (MÜSİAD) and the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce (ITO).

He is also paid to serve on the board of directors of Turk Telecom, as pointed out by opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Deniz Yavuzyılmaz on Twitter, making him an employee both of a private company and of the government. In total, when he was working as deputy Minister of Treasury and Finance, he made 32,000 lira a month from Turk Telecom and 33,849 lira from the Ministry, totaling 65,849 lira a month. For comparison, the Turkish monthly minimum wage totals approximately 2,800 Turkish Lira a month after taxes. 

After being appointed to the position early on Dec. 2, Minister Nebati posted a religiously-laden message to Twitter, asking God to “make it easy.”

“My Lord, make it easy, do not make it difficult, my Lord give us good results,” he wrote on Twitter. “Give us the truth in our work, make us successful. May my Lord grant us the ability to perform the duties of the Ministry of Finance well and to be worthy of the trust [the President] has shown in us.”