Is corruption becoming a systemic practice in Turkey?

Published November 27th, 2014 - 10:40 GMT

It is a concern to see corruption and bribery become more widespread than ever in Turkey, an elite Turkish business club warned on Wednesday, urging the government to take concrete steps to fight what threatens to turn into a “systematic practice of fraud.”

The Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (TÜSİAD) shared the results of a public survey on Wednesday that shows corruption to be on the rise in the country. 

Haluk Dinçer, the president of the leading business group -- which is dubbed the "bosses' club" -- expressed TÜSİAD's concerns on the issue at a meeting titled "Corruption in Turkey from the perspective of business world." Maintaining that he does not wish to mention any specific individuals, companies or state bodies involved in bribery, Dinçer said that TÜSİAD is disturbed by the fact that corruption has long existed in Turkey but now seems to be becoming a systematic practice. 

"Politicians who abuse public resources for personal interests, businesspeople who ignore the rules of competition, the environment and society and the mindset that considers corruption and bribery tolerable under certain conditions must have played a role in leading to this outcome,” Dinçer said in his address to the meeting.

"This is why everybody, including individuals, state bodies, the private sector and civil society, should do their part in terms of fighting corruption and taking responsibility. This analysis applies to every country that is in a fight with corruption," he continued.

TÜSİAD asked 801 businesspeople about corruption in Turkey and found out that nearly half of those polled fear that corruption will continue to rise in Turkey in the coming months. In the poll, 46 percent said they anticipated an increase in corruption incidents in the coming period while 37 percent of the businesspeople said fraud was “frequent and large” in their respective sectors. 

The investors polled by TÜSİAD cited the high tax burden, increased employment costs and unregistered economic activities among major problems of the Turkish economy. The respondents from the construction, transportation and telecommunication sectors said corruption was most widespread in these three fields while retail sector representatives reported relatively fewer corruption incidents. 

The majority of those polled cited income disparity, abusing public jobs for personal interests and lax anti-fraud regulation among major causes of corruption in Turkey while 60 percent said they do not report fraud because they lack confidence in the court system.

Referring to a report by the World Economic Forum, Dinçer said corruption increases business costs across the world by approximately 10 percent and amounts to a 5-percent loss in the global GDP. He mentioned a report released in February by the European Commission that shows corruption costs the EU economy 120 billion euros annually and that $1 trillion changes hands in bribes in the EU per year.

The TÜSİAD head also stressed that Turkey should take into consideration its future G-20 leadership in 2015 and that Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu needs to design an anti-corruption strategy.

In a statement released on Dec. 20 last year, only a few days after a major corruption and bribery scandal implicating leading figures in the Turkish government was revealed, TÜSİAD had advised the government to stay away from actions and statements that would overshadow the investigation and called for judicial independence and the protection of individual rights to be preserved. 

TÜSİAD maintained such calls on the government throughout the past year.

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