Only ten percent of the pledged money for earthquake relief has been collected

In the month since the “One Heart Turkey” campaign which purportedly raised 115 billion TL, much of the funds have not been deposited. Lack of transparency decreases trust in public institutions and makes it unlikely that citizens actually donate.

Ten days after the catastrophic earthquake, on the evening of February 16, a fundraising telethon called “One Heart Turkey” took place. There is no reason to get into its details, as it is common knowledge.

It was a campaign that had many deficiencies perhaps, but its general framework was well-intentioned.

On the very next day, the media reported that 115 billion Turkish Liras (TL) had been fundraised. However, these claims did not reflect the truth.

The reality was that the public and private individuals who participated in the campaign only pledged to donate 115 billion TL to the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority’s (AFAD) accounts.

The 70 billion TL portion of the 115 billion total for earthquake survivors was pledged by the Central Bank and other public banks. If we consider that it would be inconceivable for these institutions to not keep their promises, we can assume that this money, about which we have limited information, has been transferred to AFAD’s accounts.

As of March 16, we know based on Vice President Fuat Oktay’s statements that 74 billion TL has been deposited to AFAD’s accounts.

We do not know which parties have not fulfilled their pledges, but again, I will assume that the Central Bank and other public banks have made their pledged deposits.

Based on the assumption that 70 billion TL of the 74 billion comes from public institutions, the remaining 4 billion donated must have come from private persons, institutions, or corporations.

If the total pledged was 115 billion and the amount donated by public institutions was 70 billion TL, then the resulting situation is rather vexing.

In other words, has only 4 billion TL of the 45 billion TL (115 minus 70) promised by the private sector been donated?

It is worth noting that pledges of this sort are not legally binding.

On the night of the campaign, while individuals and company representatives were making phone calls and promising donations, they had an opportunity to advertise themselves and to put their names up on television screens, and particularly with regard to helping earthquake victims, a cause highly regarded by the public.

As of yesterday, if only ten percent of private pledges have been donated even though it has been a month since the telethon, the same screens that broadcasted the campaign need to reveal one by one the names that have not kept their promise.

That aside, why has the situation come to this?

There are a variety of reasons.

We presumably have some sort of issue in the fabric of our people. In a societal sense, perhaps a segment of the population sees no problem with making a promise and then not keeping it.

In fundraising campaigns of this sort, and even in our tax system, because there is no transparency in how the money is spent, down to its last time, citizens are not ready and willing when it comes to donations or paying taxes.

There is a considerable amount of suspicion citizens have towards institutions. The lack of trust in these institutions creates problems in the tax-paying process or in campaigns such as this.

Let us not be too hard on our compatriots. They are perhaps justified; we must keep in mind that the structures we call institutions may not be institutions at all.

I had watched a similar campaign years ago being broadcast on French television. Money was being collected for research on a muscle disease. This campaign was apparently done every year. That year, the campaign began with a presentation by a medical professor at the head of the research laboratory which received the money in question from the campaign. First and foremost, the professor relayed, cent for cent, how the money from last year’s campaign had been used.

Let us see how AFAD, after a reasonable amount of time has passed, will provide receipts and a breakdown of the usage of the donated money, cent for cent?

I do not want to insinuate that there has been corruption, for of course, we have no place for that in our culture.

I hope that they undertake this task meticulously.

*Eser Karakas: An alum of the Kadikoy Saint Joseph High School, he graduated from the Bogazici University Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences (FEAS) in 1978. He completed his PhD in 1985 at the Istanbul University Faculty of Economics. Since 1996, he has lectured as a professor at the Finance Department of the Faculty of Economics at Istanbul University. He served as the Dean of Bahcesehir University FEAS. He was dismissed from employment by way of Decree-Law No. 675 in 2016. He has been a visiting lecturer at Strasbourg University Sciences Po since 200

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