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    Mehmet Y. Yilmaz:: A lot of money" might not be illicit!

    Hürriyet Haber
    30.01.2006 - 10:04 | Son Güncelleme:

    Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is going to reveal his personal wealth tomorrow. As you might remember, the whole argument over the personal wealth of political leaders in Turkey began with Treasury Secretary Kemal Unakitan's purported statement that "Baykal has one million YTL in his bank account." This argument has now been brewing at full temperature for the last week.

    And now the prime minister is offering up a revelation of his own personal wealth for Tuesday. I would, under normal circumstances, make a joke about the fact that he gave Tuesday as the day he would make a statement, in that it will have been a full week since the argument started....normally I would say something like "well, it took that long for him to count the money!" But I won't this time.

    I wish that the Prime Minister had done this a long time ago, like when he was running for leadership of the country. Then Turkey wouldn't have had to go through the humiliation of discussing the wealth of its prime minister. Although I guess, in a way, we're used to this. In our culture, there is a saying: "A lot of money cannot be without illicitness, a lot of talk cannot be without lies." There is a sort of  "hostility towards monetary fortune" in our society, which is one of our most significant traits. The effect this winds up having is that those with considerable wealth make an effort to hide it.

    I'm sure that most of our politicians are in the same worried situation right now. I cannot explain why it is that they are all trying so hard to hide their personal wealth. Actually, in a country like Turkey, where no one pays taxes, workers work without insurance, and plots of land you buy for practically nothing are worth a fortune two years later, it should theoretically be easy to get rich.

    On the other hand, the whole "a lot of money cannot be without illicitness" belief is not just inherent in indivuals in our society, but in the government too. Otherwise, how could you explain the careful taxation controls on bank accounts containing more than 50 thousand YTL? After all, that amount is barely enough to buy a new car.

    Anyway, the Prime Minister now has a chance to add a new aspect to these arguments. While he is explaining away his fortune, it would be very good if he shed light on when and how he amassed it all, and what his tax payments have been like. It would be good for him, and good for us, as a society.

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