AKP has tried everything to snatch the recently proposed Sovereign Wealth Fund, which the Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci announced as a fund with prospects of reaching a value of 200bn dollars, from audit. As a result of objections from the opposition, the article related to ‘supervision of the fund’ has been changed; and, a brief provision has been added to ‘have the fund supervised by three public officers who will be designated by the Prime Minister.’ And, this addition has not been sufficient enough to soften speculations; rather, it has caused the opposition to assert that AKP will be ‘spending and auditing this fund completely on its own.’
The proposal for this fund has been debated at the Planning and Budget Commission of the Parliament and decided on in such a hurry, with the adjustments being made at the last minute.
The Prime Minister will assign the three auditors
The most debated part of the proposal was with regards to the provision that had suggested for the fund, and the funds of the firms to be in connection through partnerships, to be ‘unsupervised’ by and ‘unaccountable’ to Sayıştay (Turkish Court of Accounts). With this initial provision, the supervision of the fund were to be assigned to independent institutions and firms. After objections, AKP has changed this provision and added a new one which states that ‘the auditing will be carried out by at least there experts from the fields of capital markets, finance, economics, treasury, banking, or development, or, from professionals with relevant careers, who will be selected and appointed by the Prime Minister. The audit report, which would be prepared by these designated experts, is scheduled to be submitted to the Council of Ministers by the end of June; and, financial statements and activities that would be included in this report will be forwarded to the parliament commission on planning and budget by the Prime Ministry.
‘The world is changing, Turkey is changing’
Expressing objections at the commission meeting, CHP MPs asserted that appointment of auditors by the Prime Minister would cast a cloud over the supervision and that this is also obviously against the 165th article of the Constitution. While CHP MP Utku Çakırözer pointed out that danger of leaving the supervision of public funds to sources outside of the Parliament, former Treasury Minister and current CHP MP Zekeriya Temizel emphasized the requirement of selection of auditors from ‘auditing institutions’ that have been established in line with the constitution.
MHP MP Erhan Usta also supported this view of Temizel. On the other hand, responding to these objections, Minister of Finance Naci Ağbal said: “The world is changing, Turkey is changing.” Claiming that he does not embrace the idea of public institutions being responsible for supervision and auditing, Ağbal added: “Instead of assigning the role of supervision to a specific institution or the auditing staff within that institution, we must look at expertise. So, here, the important thing is which field exactly the person actually audits in: in finance, in economics, in treasury, in banking, and development?... The PM will assign them but their report will be submitted to the Council of Ministers by the month of June. And, that audit report will be consisted of the financial statements from the previous year, which will have been prepared by independent auditors. Therefore, the statements that the Prime Minister will get examined will actually be the statements that have already passed through an examination of an independent audit source.”
‘The Parliament will only see them’
CHP member and lawyer Aykut Erdoğdu underlined the image of ‘objective and independent supervision’ and said: “There is also the other side... If the Prime Minister selects this audit team by favoring his supporters, we cannot avoid creating an image of ‘supervision of un-independent supervisors’”. Erdoğdu also added that this regulation does not mean that the Parliament will have a chance to supervise; rather, it would ‘only see the reports.’
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