Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) asked the government for a hike on its 13-billion-lira annual budget for 2021 on the grounds that the funds allocated to its office are insufficient for their operations, the daily Sözcü reported on July 23.
"Some 96-97 percent of the institution's budget is allocated to staff costs every year, leaving three to four percent to conduct services," the Diyanet said in its report.
The Diyanet said that it needs increased funds for current expenditure and investment accounts to be able to "fully execute" its legal duties in a large region both nationally and internationally.
"It's mandatory that villages and small towns have religious officials employed," the Diyanet said, calling for the opening of Quran courses around apartment complexes in especially big cities.
Turkish journalist Şirin Payzın noted that many small settlements across Turkey lack proper educational facilities that should be prioritized over religious services.
Köylere ve mezralara okul ve öğretmen gerekiyor.. Diyanet bütçesi diye para alıp lüks tatil yapanların paraları nerelere harcadığını gördük .. Çocukların bilim, sanat, spor dolu bir eğitime ihtiyacı var.. https://t.co/21d8NYkSVO— Sirin Payzin (@siring) July 24, 2021
"Villages and small towns need schools and teachers," Payzın said. "Kids need an education filled with science, art and sports."
The Diyanet has long been among government offices that receive the highest allocation of funds, and has been criticized for extravagant spending such as choosing five-star hotels for employee vacations.