Turkish ruling party sold $62.33 billion in public assets in 19 years of rule

The ruling AKP has sold $62.33 billion (846 billion Turkish Liras) in public assets in the last 19 years, according to reporting by daily Cumhuriyet.

This file photo shows a view of Istanbul.

Duvar English

In its quest for privatization, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) sold $62.33 billion (846 billion Turkish Liras) in public assets to private companies between 2002 and 2021, according to reporting by daily Cumhuriyet. In 2021 alone, the government reportedly made $413 million from privatization.

This comes as Turkey’s foreign currency reserves stand at record lows and the country is in the midst of a historic economic crisis. 

According to the weekly report released by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), real estate sales constituted the lion’s share of the most recent sell-offs, daily Cumhuriyet said. In 2021 alone, $187.2 million was made from land sales, while another $175 million came from business and facility sales. In recent years, the government has come under fire for selling off public lands, such as parks and nature reserves, to private contractors, many of whom are closely linked to the government. 

In total, since the beginning of the privatization reform at the turn of the century, Turkey has privatized over $70.8 billion in assets. $62.33 billion of that was privatized by the AKP. Little of this, however, has ended up in the government’s coffers - the Central Bank’s net reserves hover around $10 billion. At the end of 2021, that number plunged to $8.68 billion, the lowest level since 2002, when the AKP came to power. 

Per the AKP budget plan for 2022, these sell-offs are likely to continue. The government, according to its budget description, plans to continue privatization in order to reduce financial and tax pressure on individuals.