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Turkish Presidency’s Love for Official Vehicles Despite Economic Downturn

The first Presidential Cabinet, which took office after the June 24 elections, was able to save the remedy in the face of the ever-rising currency crisis, and some declarations were made and measures were taken. In this context, 2019-2021 Period Investment Program Preparation Guide was published with the circular of Presidency. It is emphasized that “savings in public expenditures” will be the main priority with the aim of “stabilization in the economy and sustainable growth” within expenditures of the Presidency should be excluded.

The economic bottleneck, triggered by the massive decline of Turkish Lira against foreign currencies, especially the US dollar and the euro, has been transformed into a complete economic crisis, within the shortage in the daily life of millions of people, and the concordats announced or the job cuts that have reached serious numbers, although not a single trend for now. Since the governing Justice & Development Party AKP and its chair & President Erdogan claimed that the crisis was not the result of an economic crisis but a US operation in relation to the process of the arrest of Pastor Andrew Brunson, the developments were far from verifying this claim. Turkish government insisted on a political operation claim rather than an economic crisis, on the other hand, it has announced the savings policy that had previously been seen in times of economic crises.

Within this context, while all preliminary work was carried out for the 2019 budget, the 2018 budget had been cut already. All public institutions and organizations were asked to cut up to 30 percent of their expenses. While these measures were not enough, it was decided to carry out a study on public buildings and vehicles. Under the 2019 investment program, the top price was determined for the vehicles to be bought in compulsory cases, while the rule of “except force majeure, no vehicles will be purchased regardless of the source”. However, all the vehicles within the Presidency were exempted from the vehicle purchase price index. Prices of vehicles to be bought for the Parliament were also excluded.

METHODOLOGY AND RESOURCES OF THE STUDY

Whilst public savings discussions were concentrated during this crisis period, measurements taken to exclude the Presidential Palace have been drawing reactions. The number of vehicles used in the public sector, especially through recent purchases, has been a topic of discussion. As dokuz8NEWS, we have conducted a study that deals with the number of vehicles of the Presidential Palace, the rate of increase of vehicle numbers by years and their countries of origins. One big data source of the study is the reports prepared by the Ministry of Development, that has been shut down with the new regime.

A total number of vehicles owned by the Presidential Palace can also be seen in the procurement announcements published in the Public Procurement Agency’s Electronic Public Procurement Platform (EKAP in Turkish). Secretariat General of the Presidency announces tendering for automobiles under the ownership of Presidency and their mandatory liability insurance services. The tenderings opened at the end of each year including the tender for the procurement of services for the following year. The tender files published in EKAP also contain information on the brands, model years, types and internal and external equipment of the vehicles under the presidency.

VEHICLES IN PUBLIC SECTOR INCREASED 32 PERCENT IN 10 YEARS

The latest research on vehicle fleets, whose ownership belong to the public or financed directly by central government budget, was carried out by the Ministry of Development, which has been shut down Executive Presidential Government System has become effective in Turkey. According to the report published by the Ministry of Development in May 2018 with the title “Management of Vehicle Fleets in Public Institutions”, the number of vehicles’ ownership in the inventory of these institutions and organizations within the scope of the central government budget, increased from 83.040 to 110.131 during the period of 2007-2017. Thus, according to the report, the number of vehicles increased by 32 percent in 10 years.

PRESIDENTIAL VEHICLES MAKE UP 0.24 PERCENT OF ENTIRE PUBLIC FLEET

When the latest data of the Ministry of Development and the tendering file published in EKAP are compared, it is possible to see the size of the vehicle fleet of the Presidency within the entire fleet of the public sector. The list of vehicles in which the automobile insurance is included in the tender dossier shows total vehicles in the inventory of the Presidency. In 2017, Turkish Presidency used 268 vehicles, according to the tender file for automobile insurance. This shows that the vehicles in the hands of the Presidency only cover 0.24 percent of total vehicle fleets. However, the most significant element at this point is the increase in the number of vehicles under Presidency in the last 6 years.

IN 6 YEARS, PRESIDENTIAL FLEET GROWS 237.75 PERCENT

Data on EKAP for the vehicles fleet owned by Presidency were first published in 2012. That is to say, between 2012 and 2018, the rate of change of vehicle numbers in the Presidency can be compared. Accordingly, the Presidency, which had 98 vehicles in 2012, increased this figure to 331 in 2018. Between years 2012-2018, the Presidential fleet has grown by 237.75 percent.

GÜL INCREASED 17.34 PERCENT IN HIS LAST TWO YEARS, ERDOGAN HOLDS THE RECORD

Since the earliest data in EKAP dates back to 2012; it is possible to compare the last two offices in terms of vehicle usage. Abdullah Gül’s vehicle data for the first 5 years of his presidency is not included in EKAP, covering the period between 2007 and 2012. However, Gül has been listed in 2012 with 98 vehicles and handed over 115 vehicles to Erdoğan in August 2014. That is to say, within the framework of the available data, Gül increased the number of vehicles by 17.34 percent in the last two years of his term. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan increased the number of vehicles at the Presidential Palace by 187.82 percent during his first 4 years in Presidency.

WHICH COUNTRIES ARE IN THE PRESIDENTIAL GARAGE?

In 2012, presidential garage included Mercedes, Volkswagen, Audi, Chevrolet, Renault, Ford and ISUZU brands. There are 27 of Mercedes vehicles with at least 4 ISUZU vehicles. According to the inventory in 2012, 52 German, 30 American, 12 French origin vehicles were used. In other words, in 2012, whilst ISUZU brand vehicles were produced by a consortium other than Europe and the United States, 65.30 percent of the vehicles in the presidential fleet were European origin, and 30.61 per ent of them were American.

GÜL HANDED OVER 115 VEHICLES TO ERDOĞAN

In 2014 during Gül’s term, the number of vehicles registered at the Cankaya Presidential Palace from 98 to 115. In addition to the previous years, BMW branded 2012 model 10 motorcycles were added to the garage of the Presidency in the same year. 75 German, 6 French and 31 American vehicles were issued; 3 Japanese (ISUZU) branded vehicles were used. In other words, there were 81 European, 31 American and 3 other vehicles. In this case, while Erdoğan was being transferred to Gül’s office, 70.4 percent of the vehicles were from Europe, 26.95 percent were American, and 2.95 percent of other vehicles appear to be in the garage.

29.41 PERCENT BOOST IN THE SECOND YEAR AND 1 TURKISH VEHICLE

In 2015, the Presidency, which had 136 vehicles, increased the number of vehicles to 176 in 2016. Thus, presidential garage grew by 29.41 percent in a year. In 2016, there had been renewal in the palace’s garage. 2 Italian originated Fiat brand and 1 Otokar branded Turkish origin garbage trucks had been registered into the inventory. It seems, 109 German, 6 French, 2 Italian, 51 American, 7 Japanese and 1 Turkish brand vehicles were used.

36.7 PERCENT INCREASE IN 2017

In 2017, the number of vehicles under the rule of the Presidency step-up by 36.73 percent compared to the previous year, reaching 268. Brands in the garage of the Presidency were seen to be even more diversified. 10 Japanese and 12 Swedish origin vehicles were added to the fleet. The number of Turkish origin vehicles reached to 4.

PRESIDENTIAL FLEET GREW 23.5 PERCENT IN 2018

In 2018; the number of vehicles at the palace increased by 23.5 percent to 331. German vehicles came on top of the fleet. In 2018, 63.44 percent of the presidential vehicles were from Europe and 28.09 percent were American.

As mentioned above, according to data from the Ministry of Development, in 2017, the number of vehicles on public possession in Turkey were 110.131 while the number of vehicles owned by the Presidency in 2017 was 268.

Mercedes S600L armoured vehicles are known to be special vehicles for the Presidential office directly. The presidential inventory includes 11 armoured S600 Long which are 1998, 2006, 2009, 2012 and 2013 models. With the election of Erdoğan as the President in 2014, the turnkey price of this car was 1.157.000 Turkish Liras, however, it is sold for 12.800.000 TL today. Each year, the cost of insurance is around 1.5 million TL for only one vehicle due to the special equipment and armour on it.

SITUATION IN EUROPE

According to a Euronews review, Italy has 20 autonomous regions and according to the 2017 data, there are 29.195 public vehicles in total and only 3.068 are for officials.

The number of public vehicles in France are only 2.000 and officials’ cars are 600.

According to the 2012 data in the UK, there are only 90 public vehicles in total. To compare, only the number of Presidential vehicles were 98 in 2012 in Turkey.

In Belgium, vehicles allocated to government officials are 72, where there are 6 federal governments.

Translation: Ersin Şenel

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