Turkey offers $6 billion incentive package ahead of polls
ANKARA - Turkey will roll out a debt restructuring and social reforms package costing nearly $6 billion, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Wednesday, weeks before snap elections slated for June 24.
Yildirim said the measures would cost the government between 22-24 billion lira ($5.4-$5.9 billion), but would be more than offset by revenues from plans to register millions of unlicensed properties.
Turkey's ruling AK Party, led by President Tayyip Erdogan, has often rolled out incentives ahead of elections in its 16-year rule. In its early days, the party would distribute food and coal to poorer citizens in order to drum up support.
Yildirim said the measures would restructure tax and premium debts to public institutions as well as traffic, election and military service fines.
"We are solving the disagreements our citizens have with public institutions through this package," Yildirim said after a cabinet meeting, adding that citizens would need to apply by the end of July to take advantage of the new measures.
The government will also take steps towards registering the nearly 13 million buildings without deeds in Turkey, Yildirim said, adding that a "structure registration document" would be implemented. He said the move would earn 48 billion lira.
He also said the government would give 1,000 lira to pensioners before the two main annual Muslim holidays each year and nearly double a 265 lira monthly additional pensioners' allowance to 500 lira.
Students who were unable to complete their university degree in seven years will also be allowed to go back to school as long as they have not been linked to terrorism, Yildirim said.
Earlier this month, Erdogan called snap parliamentary and presidential elections for June 24. The elections will herald the launch of Turkey's new executive presidency, that was championed by Erdogan and narrowly approved in a referendum last year.