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President Erdogan plundered earthquake tax revenues to finance his own projects

Updated: Mar 17

Turkey has a so-called earthquake tax since 1999. With the money buildings should be made safe.

The billions of tax money could have made houses earthquake proof, but Erdogan used the money to improve his budget.

With thousands dead, even more injured, whole districts in southeastern Turkey are nothing but mountains of rubble. Instead of visiting the survivors and acting like a strong father and crisis manager, he preferred to declare a week of national mourning

Erdogan wants to be re-elected as president of the giant European-Asian empire on May 14. As cynical as it may sound, the earthquake disaster could even benefit the Islamic conservative politician. The way the disaster is handled could even decide the election.

Erdogan has ruled the country since 2003, first as prime minister and since 2014 as president.

After the heavy earthquake in Istanbul in 1999, which claimed 17,000 lives, the earthquake tax was introduced. Since then a 7.5 percent extra levy has been charged on cell phone calls. A revenue from the tax for the Turkish state was estimated on 31 billion Euros 2020.

After the 2020 earthquake in Elazig, Erdogan, when asked about the whereabouts of the tax money, yelled: "We have used the money where it was needed! We also have no more time to account for such things!"

According to a calculation of the opposition party CHP, almost half of the tax revenue went to Erdogan’s political projects.

Bülent Mumay, a regime critical journalist, reported that at least another eight million U.S. dollars were diverted to the Erdogan-affiliated Ensar Foundation via a cover address of the Red Crescent relief organization.

When this all is over and the mourning in Turkey has subsided, Erdogan will

have to answer tough questioning from the opposition about the whereabouts of the earthquake tax. An answer like: "We have used the money where it was needed! We also have no more time to account for such things!" won’t be enough.

But the campaign against Erdogan has been sluggish so far.

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