The Turkish government came under further pressure on Monday for its response to the bushfires that ravaged the country after it emerged that the forestry agency spent more than ten times its firefighting spending on basketball .
The Forestry Branch, or GMO, spent 40 million Turkish liras ($ 4.6 million) on Ormanspor’s men’s and women’s basketball teams last season, according to the agency’s financial records.
It was revealed last week that GMO only spent 3.4 million lire in the first six months of this year on forest fire prevention and control projects and equipment, despite a budget. of 193 million lire allocated to such measures.
As Turkey has battled its worst bushfires in the past two weeks, authorities have come under fire for a lack of preparedness in areas regularly hit by seasonal fires. Eight people were killed and thousands of homes and businesses destroyed as flames swept across the southwest coast and further inland.
“The GMO has an annual allocation of over 4 billion lire and only 190 million lire has been allocated to fighting fires, of which only 3 million lire has been used,” said Murat Emir, MP of the People’s Republic opposition. Party, who submitted a written question to Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Bekir Pakdemirli.
“However, when you look at the budget allocated to Ormanspor, you can see that almost 40 million lire has been spent. This budget is almost four times that of Besiktas, who played in the semi-finals of the basketball league. ball.
Turkey has a history of public bodies – from municipal authorities to utility companies – funding sports clubs that play in professional leagues.
Ankara-based Ormanspor – the name translates to Forest Sport – features basketball teams in the men’s and women’s leagues. The women’s team finished the season in fourth place in May while the men were relegated from the top flight after finishing last with just seven wins in 30 games.
Mr Emir questioned some of the club’s expenses and said he did not disclose the amount spent on player salaries.
He pointed to the 38-year-old son of a director who has been on the Ormanspor books for 10 years and only played a few minutes in 16 games last season. He also claimed that a 42-year-old women’s team player was a friend of Mr Pakdemirli’s wife.
“The club do not disclose player contract fees,” he said. “Why doesn’t a publicly funded club disclose player contract fees?
“The GMO’s budget was planned as if there would be no fires.”
Sports journalist Alp Ulagay said the “real numbers” of spending lacked transparency. “In basketball and volleyball, especially in clubs owned by public bodies, it is very difficult to keep track of spending and management,” he said.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, which oversees the GMO, did not respond to a request for comment.
The GMO posted a statement on Twitter, then deleted the tweet, which described the suggestions as “far from reality” and claimed the “total budget for the amateur teams that we support across Turkey through our two Super Leagues. [basketball] teams and regional offices is 15 million lire ”.
Referring to earlier revelations that the GMO report showed that a nominal amount of Lit 1,000 had been allocated to purchase 26 helicopters, management said the “trace allocation” was “intended for to show that the project is still an ongoing project “.
The statement said that a “total budget” of 1.5 billion lire for airplanes and land vehicles in 2021 would be “spent by the end of the year.”
“What is the source of the 1.5 billion lire?” Mr. Emir said. “Will you spend it after the forests have been reduced to ashes?” “
Update: August 9, 2021, 4:30 p.m.