Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has spent a record amount of TL 2.5 billion ($430 million) from the state budget in the first five months of 2019, the Birgün daily reported on Tuesday.
Erdoğan, who was first elected to the presidency in 2014 and won a second term in 2018, has been spending more money than his predecessors, breaking his own records.
The total amount of money spent by the presidency in 2018 was TL 1.6 billion, while it was TL 198 million in the first five months of the year, according to data from the Treasury and Finance Ministry.
Out of the TL 2.5 billion Erdoğan spent up until June 2019, TL 1 billion was from discretionary funds while the remainder was taken from the presidential budget, which was increased to TL 3.1 billion at the beginning of the year, from TL 2.8 billion.
Discretionary funds are allocated to the president, the government and state organs from a yearly state budget. Users of discretionary funds are offered some guidelines as to how they may use these funds but also enjoy flexibility in their use. These funds are not for a particular project. Discretionary funds can be used without approval from Parliament or any other state institution and are seen as tools to help the government achieve its goals without spending much time on bureaucratic red tape.
In March 2015 a regulation granting a discretionary fund to the presidency was passed as part of a government-sponsored omnibus bill in the Turkish Parliament despite objections from opposition parties.
The president is able to use the fund “for state necessities that contain discreet intelligence and defense services; the national security and higher interests of the state; political, social and cultural purposes; and extraordinary services,” according to the regulation, which made changes to the Public Finance Management and Control Law, which provided the discretionary fund for the now-defunct prime ministry.
Erdoğan has been spending more money every year since his election to the top state post in 2014. He spent TL 266 million in 2014, TL 543 million in 2015, TL 1.3 billion in 2016 and TL 1.6 billion in 2017 and 2018, according to budget data from the ministry.