Bayraktar underlined that his administration has supported reducing the unregistered economy in Turkey by educating blue collar staff and by increasing the quality of buildings throughout the country. “So far we have been constructing inexpensive but high-quality housing and selling it in installments stretching over 15-20 years. But TOKİ will now also get involved in urban renewal projects. We [TOKİ] will do everything we can to find structures erected without proper building permits and non-earthquake resistant buildings and renew them. This year will be a year of urban renewal for Turkey,” Bayraktar said.
“TOKİ’s success is due to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government. What we do is exactly what a social state needs to do. We not only construct inexpensive housing for the poor but also make nice living areas.”
The TOKİ president also added that they want to put an end to unlicensed contractors in the country. “The Ministry of Public Works and Settlement is currently working on a project that will put an end to these contractors and replace them with licensed ones. We need to do this if Turkey wants to increase the quality of buildings in the country,” he noted.
TOKİ was established in 1984 by then-President Turgut Özal and has constructed many buildings and houses in the İstanbul and Ankara regions.
From 1984 to 2002 it constructed 43,000 buildings in all, while from 2002 until recently -- the Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) term in government -- TOKİ constructed more than 500,000 buildings. Bayraktar said his administration aims to reach the 1 million building mark by 2023, the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Turkish Republic. “Apart from this, TOKİ has also constructed close to 100 hospitals throughout the country, 340 mosques and 400 business centers. We have about 2,000 construction sites spread over the 81 provinces,” he noted.
However, Murat Yalçıntaş, president of the İstanbul Chamber of Commerce (İTO), drew attention to what he calls abnormal increases in the price of steel bar, cement and aggregate in a statement released by the İTO on Monday. He noted that the cost of energy, a crucial input for steel bar and cement, rose approximately 20 percent in one year. Considering the fact that the price of a ton of steel bar was TL 780-800 in January of last year and exceeded TL 1,200 last month while the price of a ton of cement rose by almost 50 percent in one year, the construction sector is facing a serious threat.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the Association of Turkish Building Material Producers (İMSAD) also addressed the high increases in the price of commodities. It said the cost of buildings in Turkey rose by nearly 8 percent in 2011 compared to 2009. It also underlined that the central bank’s policy mix, which includes cutting interest rates and increasing reserve requirements to curb hot money inflows, is seen as limiting loan volume. “This policy makes it harder for people to buy houses, thereby negatively affecting the construction sector,” the statement said.