MP Paylan: Ankara is stuck in a spiral of corruption and waste
"Ankara is stuck in a spiral of corruption and waste. We need to move the wheel in the other direction," says HDP economic expert and MP Garo Paylan.
The Turkish lira is depreciating more and more every day, while prices are skyrocketing. The Erdoğan regime has maneuvered Turkey into a profound economic crisis. Armenian politician Garo Paylan, a deputy for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) talked to ANF about the background and consequences of the crisis.
How high is the number of unemployed in Turkey and Northern Kurdistan?
There are currently ten million unemployed in Turkey. However, the statistics authority speaks of only about four million. The reason for this is that the remaining six million have no hope of finding a job. These people have been looking for a job for many years but cannot find one. Those who have given up looking for work fall out of the statistics. According to our findings, one in four people in Turkey is currently unemployed. More acutely, every second young person is unemployed. Just like the inflation figures, the statistics authority manipulates the unemployment figures.
What is the relationship between rising inflation and unemployment?
The government has been pursuing the wrong economic policy for a long time. The government puts money on the market and channels it uncontrollably to its supporters. For this reason, Turkey has been caught in a spiral of inflation, foreign exchange and interest rates. In this uncertainty, investments are not coming to Turkey. Moreover, unemployment rates have risen to gigantic levels. The economy is like a human body. If blood pressure, sugar and heart are intact, the body is also intact. In Turkey, this structure does not work.
It all depends on one man. There is an economic system that supports the regime's supporters and enriches one percent of the population. It is a corruption economy, for this reason there can be no question of investing in Turkey at all. Most citizens suffer from poverty and their poverty is constantly worsening. As long as the one-man regime rules, people will continue to be crushed by inflation.
According to the World Bank, a layer of 1.5 million new poor has emerged in Turkey. The Ministry of Family and Social Affairs, on the other hand, declares that there is no longer any poverty. What is true?
The Ministry of Family and Social Policy and the ministers live in their villas. Of course, there is no poverty in their surroundings. Yes, there is no poverty in the palaces or among AKP supporters. The Minister of Family and Social Policy may not feel poor. She can live in the pomp of her luxurious palace. The AKP has ended poverty in its own circles. But the richer they got, the poorer the vast rest became. They are cut off from the people, and they don't know the people. If they went to a bazaar to see the situation of the shopkeepers, or if they stopped by the neighborhoods, they would see how deep poverty has become.
Poverty has increased significantly in the last 20 years because people need much more to survive. That's why people are drowning in debt. Their income is far from covering their basic needs. The government may claim that poverty is over in their own dream world, in their own glass mansions. But that is not the truth.
After the minimum wage was announced, prices for food, gas and electricity were increased. In your opinion, is the 2,825 lira [about 320 euros] minimum wage enough?
The minimum wage seems to be slightly above the starvation level. However, if you look at the price increases of ten to twenty percent in January, it will take a few months at most before the minimum wage is below the hunger line again. This is a disgrace for the country. Our citizens are promised an amount that can ensure food alone. However, there is a poverty line of 8,200 TL when rent, bills and other expenses are included.
In this context, we have suggested that the minimum wage should at least be tax-free and must be TL 4,000 net. But the regime is plunging people into misery. 2,825 lira is a starvation wage. But we are not condemned to it, we will oppose it and see that poverty will end if we oppose it together. There is a spiral of corruption and waste in Ankara. We have to move the wheel in a different direction. As the HDP, we will take important steps in this direction in the near future.
In 2020 alone, there emerged 96,000 new millionaires in Turkey. on the other hand, the household debt is 800 billion. What is this inequality related to?
In countries where there is no social justice, a small minority gets richer and the rest become impoverished. In Turkey, there are many resources. Our people are trying to produce. If a just order was established in Turkey, no one would be left out. But when a very important part of the resources is taken by one percent of society and a very large part of the population is in debt, there can be no talk of social justice. AKP supporters, their spouses, friends and relatives have become really wealthy, while the rest are impoverished. As long as the palace and the one-man regime continue to rule, large parts of Turkey will continue to impoverish, and the regime's supporters will continue to prosper.
Things look even worse in the Kurdish region than in Turkey. What is the government's economic policy in Northern Kurdistan?
Kurdistan is a very important issue if you want to talk about inequality in the regions in Turkey. It is a region that has been exploited for over a hundred years. Kurdistan is a region where there has been no investment in areas such as education, health, and science, and it is a region where there is no freedom. Since there is no freedom in Kurdistan, a functioning economy cannot be built there. This is not only true for Kurdistan. The Black Sea region is also way behind when we look at social inequality. We see a significant amount of resources going to Western provinces. The areas are becoming impoverished and depopulated. In this sense, the backward regions need to be developed economically. But the government is not interested in this. All it cares about is deepening exploitation. This is how it exploits the economy of Kurdistan. In certain places in the Black Sea, in the Kurdish region and in Anatolia, urgently needed investments must be made.
The 2021 budget earmarks more than 250 billion lira for war. That amounts to a quarter of the budget. What do you say to that?
A very important part of the 2021 budget is reserved for the palace, the war and AKP supporters. The AKP has built an economy that serves it alone. In the process, it continues to expand its security and military policies. In the 2021 budget, more than 250 billion TL will be spent on security. Citizens can ask, "What is it that does not ensure the country's security?" Then we say, "We are not condemned to war policy. The budget is a choice."
What, then, do you think a peace-oriented policy could contribute economically?
If you favor the war policy, your resources go to S-400 missile systems, tanks, guns and missiles. But if you move away from war policy and fortify peace, then your resources go to appointing non-appointed teachers, to people retiring, to canceling tuition debt, to repealing the taxation of minimum wages. In this sense, I would like to address all our citizens whose demands have not been met: If we build peace, economic hardship will be eliminated and prosperity will be achieved. The war policy causes us to lose both our peace, our people and our prosperity and leaves us in great poverty and deprivation.
Is there anything you would like to add in conclusion?
We know that we are all being robbed together. All of our citizens need to know that. Eighty-three million people pay taxes here. But the resources are flowing to five contractors. This is nothing other than robbery. This robbery is covered up by non-transparency. In a democracy, citizens say, "I pay my taxes and demand accountability for them." As long as we cannot demand accountability for our taxes, the robbery will continue. I call on all our citizens to demand accountability for their taxes. We are trying to advocate for that in Parliament as well.