Turkish main opposition leader vows to fight pro-Erdoğan companies' 'theft'

CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Dec. 7 promised to nationalize pro-government companies' investments, as he also called the said firms "a gang of five" in a fiery speech in parliament. In November, Kılıçdaroğlu branded the PPP projects as "those that rob the state."

This file photo shows the pro-government businessmen Kılıçdaroğlu mentioned in his speech.

Duvar English

Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has promised to nationalize pro-government companies' investments when the party comes to power. 

Giving a fiery speech in parliament during 2021 budget talks, Kılıçdaroğlu deemed the said pro-government companies "a gang of five," referring to contractors Limak, Kolin, Cengiz, Mapa and Kalyon.

"We'll nationalize and seize all the investments of this gang of five that will exploit even our grandchildren," Kılıçdaroğlu said, as he also vowed to end "this order of theft."

CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu

Turkey’s private-public partnership (PPP) system has been used to fund megaprojects that includes bridges, ports, roads and airports. The system turned into a way of giving out handouts to the companies close to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). It allows private companies granted tender on the projects to make an initial investment and construct the infrastructure, after which they are granted the license to operate it for periods often reaching decades.

The guaranteed income the government often grants these companies during their tender period is also a subject of debate. Agreements may stipulate that, in the event that a tender-operating company’s revenues from the infrastructure projects do not reach a certain level, the government will pay the difference.

The income is often guaranteed in dollars, which exaggerates public losses even further since the Turkish Lira has been losing value heavily against international currencies for the past years.

On Dec. 7, Kılıçdaroğlu criticized the said guarantee, saying the tenders are not "local and national" as the government claims to be.

"You pay this gang of five not only dollars, but also the difference in the exchange rate as the lira keeps weakening. What did you give to the shop owners? You gave them loans and then pressured them to pay it back!" he said.

In November, Kılıçdaroğlu branded the PPP projects as "those that rob the state."

"We have no problem with the investments of the private sector, but we can't accept a structure that companies are given guarantees based on dollars that will cause a major budget gap in the years to come," he said at the time.

During his speech in parliament, Kılıçdaroğlu also slammed the fact that pro-government businessmen and individuals in public posts receive more than one salary each month.

"Is your conscience okay with the fact that some people receive five salaries when the unemployment is so high?" he asked.