Sovereign Wealth Fund law to be submitted to Parliament as new driving force for mega projects

DAILY SABAH WITH AA
ISTANBUL
Published 09.08.2016 00:54
Updated 09.08.2016 00:55
The Wealth Fund will serve as the driving force behind Turkey's mega projects including Istanbul's third airport, which is expected to become operational in 2018.
The Wealth Fund will serve as the driving force behind Turkey's mega projects including Istanbul's third airport, which is expected to become operational in 2018.

Finance Minister Ağbal announced that the law to establish Turkey's Sovereign Wealth Fund will be handed in to Parliament today. Thereby, funds for mega-projects will be provided more easily, alleviating a burden on the banking sector

Finance Minister Naci Ağbal said the draft law on the establishment of the Turkish Sovereign Wealth Fund will be submitted to Parliament's Planning and Budget Commission today. "While the fund helps to decrease fluctuations in the market, it will also serve as the driving force behind Turkey's mega projects," Ağbal said.

The draft law was announced for the first time last week. The establishment of the Turkish Sovereign Wealth Fund and various amendments to a number of laws will address Turkey's need for a welfare fund, as it is the only G20 member that lacks one. The government also has goals to boost Turkey's economic growth by an additional 1.5 percent in the next 10 years with the new fund.

Ağbal indicated that the establishment of the Turkish Sovereign Wealth Fund has been an ongoing process but technicalities are nearly complete. "Some public resources that currently function passively will be activated and transferred to this welfare fund, which will contribute to Turkey's economic growth by stabilizing market fluctuations and serving as a driving force behind mega project development," Ağbal said.

The fund will be established with TL 50 million ($16 million) in fully paid capital from the Privatization Fund during the initial stage. Later, sources will be provided by institutions and from assets included in the privatization field and program and transferred to the Turkish Sovereign Wealth Fund by the Privatization High Council, and from the budget surplus that will be transferred to the Turkish Sovereign Wealth Fund from the Privatization Fund.

The fund will also be bolstered by financial assets under the umbrella of public institutions and organizations. The first draft also includes several tax exemptions and incentives for investments strategically defined by the Economic Coordination Council.

According the draft law, sources to fund the new welfare program will be established in the first stage of development by taking a certain percentage from various funds and Turkish state revenue. The fund is expected to have a structure that allows it to create its own sources in time and reduce the banking sector's dominant role in the financial sector as well as providing financial resources for Turkey's mega investments.

The fund is also expected to stabilize markets in the event of financial stress. Among other goals, the fund will try to speed up market growth and depth, expand Islamic financial assets, provide additional employment opportunities and support local companies that operate in the technology sectors, such as defense, aviation and software, on the basis of capital and projects to make them global players. It will also provide financial resources for infrastructure projects such as highways. Istanbul's third airport and the nuclear power plant will also be fueled without increasing the public sector debt while optimizing opportunities for direct investments in internationally strategic sectors crucial to Turkey's economic growth including independence in the oil and natural gas sector without legal and bureaucratic limitations. .

Regarding the welfare fund, the draft law says, "In addition to contributions to the economy for overcoming its structural problems, as an important instrument of foreign policies, it will allow Turkey to have more say in the international arena." While the fund has the authority to make every capital market transaction including fixed-income securities, gold and bonds, it will also have the right to participate in investments made by other states and/or foreign companies on the international platform.

Stating that the draft law on the establishment of this fund would be submitted to Parliament's Planning and Budget Commission on Tuesday along with other regulations on investments, Ağbal said it would befit the growth perspective put forward for 2016.

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