Turkey’s Ministry of Industry and Technology seems to function as an “incentive distributing centre” for capitalist entities under the rule of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s new presidential government system.
As the June 24 elections marked Turkey’s transition to an executive presidential model, some former ministries have been abolished while some others have been merged. The Ministry of Industry and Technology has been established with a presidential decree in substitution for two ministries: a ministry for science, industry and technology, and another one for development.
President Erdoğan has assigned his former chief advisor Mustafa Varank as the Minister of Science and Technology while the new ministry appears to take over some authorities of the Ministry of Economy.
The abolished Ministry of Development dates back to the State Planning Organization (DPT) that marked Turkey’s industrial investments in the 1960s and 1970s. As the organization used to offer planned economic models for governments, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) regarded the organization as an “outdated” structure, thus changed its name and turned it into a ministry.
The Ministry of Development, the successor to the DPT organization, continued to produce some works and documents on several public activities such as 5-year plans, mid-term programs or annual programs. As 5-year plans had been ignored after Turkey had witnessed neoliberal policies particularly following the military coup in 1980, such plans became important again in the wake of the 2008 global crisis. Therefore, Turkish capitalists resorted to the 10th Development Plan in search of an exit from economic pressures.
‘ECONOMIC INCENTIVES’ REPLACE FOR ‘PLANNING’ IN NEW MINISTRY
Erdoğan’s new presidential government model seems to discard such concepts as “development” and “planning”. The new Ministry of Industry and Technology will assume some incentive functions of the Economy Ministry, catalysing the private sector investments around the country. This ministry will also head the organization of build-operate-transfer projects.
A presidential decree on the readjustment of ministries delegates the Ministry of Industry and Technology with designating and producing policies and strategies of “economic productivity”. The ministry will be able to produce policies in order to create industrial zones, free trade zones and technology-development areas.
The related article from the presidential decree tasks the ministry with working on required regulations to ensure efficient investment incentives for the domestic economy. Therefore, the ministry is authorized to carry out activities for incentives to attract local and foreign capital, and organize the processes for carrying out build-operate-transfer projects, investments and services by, partially or totally, domestic and foreign corporations.
Mustafa Varank, one of the closest aides of Erdoğan, will serve as the Industry and Technology Minister in the new cabinet. Varank is known as a low profile figure having no experience of planning or industry, showing the direct intervention of Erdoğan in Turkey’s economy policies.