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Ankara shifts public assets to sovereign wealth fund

In a move critics say is financially risky and intended to concentrate money into corrupt hands, the Turkish government has created a sovereign wealth fund to finance its infrastructural projects as the lira falls.
Turkey's Finance Minister Naci Agbal speaks during an interview with Reuters in Ankara, Turkey, September 27, 2016. Picture taken September 27, 2016. REUTERS/Umit Bektas - RTSPSH4

Controversy continues to rage over the government’s decision to transfer the assets of major public companies including Turkey’s state-owned bank and telephone operator as well as its 49.12% stake in Turkish Airlines to a new sovereign wealth fund.

The purpose of the fund, which according to Hurriyet controls assets worth 31.3 billion Turkish lira ($8.8 billion), is to finance big-ticket infrastructure projects and other investments, some of which are deeply controversial as well. They include the “crazy project” to create an artificial sea route that is supposed to run parallel to the Bosporus Strait from the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara and relieve tanker congestion in Istanbul’s iconic waterway.

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