Fundraiser TV show raises $5.3 billion, most of it state money
A massive fundraiser on Wednesday evening, co-broadcast by 200 TV stations in Turkey raised more than $5.3 billion, but was criticized by some who said the event was turned into a spectacle by some businessmen and corporations because their donations were tax-exempt.
Popular TV stars urged the public to make donations for the to the Turkish disaster management agency Afad and the Turkish Red Crescent as part of the campaign named Turkiye One Heart.
The highest donation of 30 billion Turkish liras ($1.6 billion) came from the Central Bank of Turkey, Ziraat Bank 20 billion liras ($1 billion,) Vakifbank 12 billion liras ($637 million,) and Halkbank 7 billion liras ($371.3 million.) All of the institutions were state-run, prompting questions on social media about whether "the state gave money to the state"
Pro-government Turkish construction companies Cengiz and Kalyoncular donated 2.5 billion Turkish liras ($132.6 million) and 950 million liras ($50.4 million), respectively.
Among the largest donors were also mobile phone companies Turkcell and Turk Telekom with 3.5 billion and 2 billion lira, respectively, and state insurer Turkiye Sigorta with 2 billion lira. Turkish Airlines and Borsa Istanbul also donated 2 billion liras each.
Isbank separately announced a 1 billion liras donation and a pledge to support new construction with 1.75 billion liras.
Opposition leaders each donated one of their monthly salaries as a symbolical gesture.
Some opposition figures criticised the donations coming from the state run banks:
"Giving money to the state for the state! This is nothing more than transferring money from one account to another," said Ozcan Kadioglu, deputy chairman of the Good Party.
"The 'donation' of a central bank through profit transfer or money printing is expansionary monetary policy. This isn't called 'donation,'" said economist Selva Demiralp