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Erdogan makes himself ‘czar of the economy’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to take the helm of Turkey’s sovereign wealth fund compounds misgivings over an institution that holds the country’s key public assets, but is already mired in controversy for lack of transparency and public supervision.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attends a ceremony marking the 96th anniversary of Victory Day at the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in Ankara, Turkey August 30, 2018. REUTERS/Umit Bektas - RC123071A6A0
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Faced with economic turmoil fueled by the meltdown of the Turkish lira, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been issuing threatening messages against price hikes and capital flights. On Sept. 12, he took a critical step that effectively made him the czar of the economy. Erdogan appointed himself the head of the Turkey Wealth Fund (TVF), which holds $200 billion public assets, while naming as deputy his son-in-law Berat Albayrak, who is also the treasury and finance minister. By taking the helm of an institution that controls strategic public companies, Erdogan is assuming an extraordinary authority over the economy.

Created hastily in August 2016 under a state of emergency, the TVF has stakes in public giants such as Ziraat Bank, pipeline operator BOTAS, oil company TPAO, the national postal service, the Istanbul stock exchange, satellite communications company TURKSAT, the national lottery, Turkish Airlines, Halkbank and Turkish Telekom.

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