$6 billion donation money not to be transferred into reconstruction fund

$6 billion donation money not to be transferred into reconstruction fund
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As a bill to establish a fund for reconstruction projects is set to be voted in Turkish parliament, the introducer of the bill has said that billions of dollars earlier collected will not be transferred into the new fund.

The plan and budget commission in the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) approved a legislative proposal for the establishment of a fund to support reconstruction efforts after the earthquakes on 6 February.

The introducer of the bill made it clear however that the 115 billion TL (approx. $6 billion) received through a televised national donation campaign will not be incorporated in the new fund.

In response to question by deputies whether the 115 billion TL will be transferred to the reconstruction fund, the introducer Cemal Ozturk, deputy for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), simply said that it will not.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said on 15 February during the live broadcast of the donation campaign:

"Our objective is to start handing over in a year's time new residences to replace the destroyed ones, residences in which our people will safely live in peace of mind (...) Every cent that we receive today, and those that will be donated to AFAD from home and abroad, all will be used to respond to the needs of the earthquake victims."

While it remains uncertain how and for which ends the large donations previously collected will be used, the opposition in Turkey questions what happened to tens of billions dollars of tax money that have been collected over the years for measures to curb the impact of possible earthquakes.

Mithat Sancar, the co-chair of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), asked on Tuesday in a tweet:

"This smart administration is now trying to load the burden on the workers and the poor by means of a legislation titled 'Disaster Reconstruction Fund.' We ask again: Where is the $38 billion collected under the so-called earthquake tax?"