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Medium run perspective of Turkey is the EU
What did we underline a while ago? We underlined that the crisis periods are the periods of "saving the day". Crises periods were not time for heroic actions for those who undertook the responsibility of managing a company. There was no need to beat a dead horse or be embarrassed. The important thing was to watch out each step you take than making long-term plans. It would be wise to take one step at a time. Then, what does this 'medium run perspective' put in the title with big fonts mean? Does it have any meaning? Let us see.
President of United States of America (USA) Franklin Delano Roosevelt had defined the meaning of this crisis period decades ago; nowadays Barack Hussein Obama is repeating what Roosevelt had said. According to Roosevelt, crisis periods were periods of bold and persistent experimentations. We were going through a process we are not familiar with. Error margin was wide. The important thing was not to make mistakes but to have the ability to rapidly get away from the mistake. Therefore, we had to try. As a matter of fact, trying is what we have been doing lately. In other words, the present situation is exactly same with that in 1930s!
Now, this is the case: A period where the public sector continuously makes experimentations to reinvigorate economic atmosphere is full of ambiguities for decision makers in the private sector. The primary issue of importance for the private sector is the clear certainty of the line of action of the public sector. This is more important that what the public sector actually does. What the public sector is doing will be crystal clear that line of action of the private sector will be clearly seen. An environment where the behavior pattern of the public sector varies from one day to another in line with the conditions posed by the crisis is not good for the private sector. In such an atmosphere, private sector has difficulty in deciding its line of action. And this is not good as well; because it delays the contribution of the private sector in the recovery process with its own resources. It obstructs the shift to growth path. Medium term perspective is of importance in this framework. It is necessary for the public sector to explain economic actors clearly what is tried to be done and to guide the economic actors.
First element of the medium term perspective must be putting how the cost of public interventions to invigorate the economy will be paid onto a medium-run comprehensible framework. This framework is highly important also for the EU accession process. It is involved in accession conditions. This is the first element.
Second issue is that, over a period where public resources will frequently be transferred to the private sector, efficient use of public resources as well as fighting with corruption must be top priorities. It is wise to enact State Aids Law and achieve European Union standards in the system as soon as possible. A period where public resources will be widely used by the private sector might be prone to errors and corruption. At least, this is a potential threat. It is of importance to take measures against this risk. That the measure as well assists us in taking a step forward in the EU accession process is also import. Thus, the second issue is also related with the EU accession process.
The third issue related to opening the space that is necessary to ensure the private sector contributes to the recovery process with lower costs and delay by focusing on the solution of institutional infrastructure problems. Here, the process in point is the second generation reform process. This way, it is possible to kill three candles with one stone. First, it will be emphasized before economic actors that free market perspective still applies in the medium term. Second, medium term capacity constraints that obstructs dynamic economic growth will be eliminated. Third, resources will be spent in certain areas in line with fiscal expansion. Note that this second generation reform process matches up with the EU process. Public administration reform, education reform and judicial reform are just a few among reform areas.
At this phase, it is necessary to learn lessons from the experiences of other countries. We will not find a bunch of wonders but a series of trials. For instance, Restructuring and Recovery Act of the USA is not only tailored for a specific agenda but also has a medium-term perspective. The Act that focuses on the problems of banks and companies as an emergency, targets to handle the worn-out infrastructure of the USA in the medium term. Everyday a new bridge construction is finished or a new school or classroom is opened. Similarly, a medium term perspective is also observed in Brazil. Main priority is to drill the strategic product oil and turn Brazil into an oil country. The content of public expenditure is to built roads and ports and see-top oil platforms to this end and the construction of ships carrying loads to these platforms at Brazilian shipyards. All countries also implement plans to protect the poor and unemployed throughout the country. The important thing is to design a medium run "success story" for the country. It does not have to be true; but the story is necessary.
Turkey is still at the beginning of the path. We do not even have an emergency intervention package. For the present, Turkey is the most "liberal" country of the crisis period. If the emergency agenda is somehow shaped, a medium term program backed with the aforementioned three elements will be highly beneficial. But, does Turkey need to ruminate on this medium term perspective? No; Turkey's medium term perspective is the EU.
Problem about the EU accession process was that the negotiation process could not be prioritized as Turkey failed to devise policies. Life, through the crisis, dictates our priorities.
Submitted two whom this might concern.
This commentary was published in Referans daily on 07.05.2009