ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been accused of dodging his responsibilities by launching a nationwide donation campaign to help low-income earners struggling with the coronavirus outbreak.
The new fund replaces donation accounts set up by Erdogan’s political rivals in the Ankara and Istanbul municipalities, which were abruptly blocked by the Interior Ministry.
Many people prefer making donations to city mayors because it offers greater transparency on how their money is spent.
Erdogan’s new campaign, labeled “We are self-sufficient, Turkey,” called on Turkish citizens to make financial donations to a specific bank account. The president promised to donate seven months of his salary, and the Cabinet joined the appeal with a donation of more than $790,000.
“Our goal is to help those financially struggling, especially daily wage workers, due to the precautions taken against the outbreak,” Erdogan said.
But opposition IYI Party leader Meral Aksener said Erdogan’s “salary is not enough … instead he should donate the plane given to him by the Qatari emir.”
With thousands facing wage cuts or joblessness amid tightened measures to curb the outbreak, Erdogan’s call for nationwide donations has been widely criticized as an attempt to avoid government responsibility.
Other critics said that the donation campaign was a last resort to avoid asking for help from the International Monetary Fund because of Turkey’s economic problems.
Research analyst Sinem Adar said the campaign was motivated by Erdogan’s rivalry with the Istanbul and Ankara municipalities.