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December 12, 2012, Wednesday

Auditing and public conscience

The lack of audits and checks was the most disturbing thing for the public at times when the military was strong and influential. Nobody knew a thing about how military tender bids were being held.

The budgets of the military units used to be endorsed by Parliament without any discussions and we were unaware of the amount of money being spent. The spending by the top bureaucracy and the privileges given to some military economic enterprises bothered the public conscience.

We were also disturbed by the transfer of sources and monies to privileged groups without any inspections or control processes. Those who caused troubles by relying on some pretexts to lay the ground for military coups and interventions used to transfer wealth and monies to certain groups. The Islamic movement in Turkey attracted attention and support under these conditions. We believed that people with religious considerations would bring justice and laws and be observant of the rights of the people. We believed that there would be a legal system where everyone would subscribe to the law and that there would be no incidents of corruption in this system. God told his Prophet how to behave and act and what criteria he should observe in his actions. The Quran gave us instructions on how to regulate our lives.

Reading an interview with Public Procurement Authority (KİK) President Mahmut Gürses with the Akşam daily, I asked myself whether the extent of the lack of inspection over public spending is grave. Gürses said: “Only four out of 100 procurement bids are reviewed by us. The procurement bids of 60 public institutions are exempted from inspection. The number of institutions exempted from inspection by KİK was six in the past.”

As you may recall, in consideration of the harm associated with the corruption in public procurement bids during the time surrounding the Feb. 28, 1997 coup, a law was passed to introduce the inspection of public institutions by KİK, though six institutions were exempted from this. The law was made at a time when Kemal Derviş was administering the economy in early 2002. KİK President Gürses said: “The procurements in connection with the FATİH project, the Marmaray procurement bid, the bids on historical palaces, railways, the third [Bosporus] bridge and high-speed train lines, [Turkish Pipeline Corporation] BOTAŞ procurements, [the National Intelligence Organization] MİT and [the Finance Ministry's Financial Crimes Investigation Board] MASAK tenders, as well as procurements for sports federations, were exempted from KİK inspections.”

With the introduction of a new bill on the Court of Accounts, the Foreign Ministry, the General Secretariat of the National Security Council (MGK), MİT, the Ministry of Defense and the Gendarmerie General Command are exempted from accountability and inspection because of the sensitivities of their services. Only the police department is included in the inspection scheme.

Of course, public service is performed with the observation of some sensitivities. Of course, the elected people should have some initiative in their action. Nobody ignores this fact, but the introduction of an inspection framework for public expenditures and the review of the expenditures by external inspectors are crucially important for the sake of the public conscience. Sometimes the public conscience is everything in democracies.

We cannot be like those who we criticized in the past. We know that for those who observe religious precepts in their lives, the observation of the rights of the people is an important issue. Those who rely on religious precepts in their lives and who pay attention to the protection of the rights of the people will have no reservations about inspections.

It should be noted that democracy also means the accountability of those who rule the country.

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