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Kılıçdaroğlu makes a ‘social state’ move – 18.02.2011

 

GİLA BENMAYOR

We have met with the big guns of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, this week.

CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, vice presidents, Umut Oran, Faik Öztrak and Sencer Ayata, were in Istanbul to brief us about “Family Insurance,” which is regarded as the No. 1 trump-card of the party for the approaching general elections.

“Family Insurance” stipulates 600-1,250 Turkish Liras financial aid to poor families. According to the CHP chairman, the “Family Insurance” is like a message “We are with you,” to the slums, where the opposition had not make its presence felt during the previous election period.

“The perception is that only the rich vote for the CHP and that we cannot reach out to the slums. We will change the perception,” says Kılıçdaroğlu.

The “Family Insurance,” or “financial aid,” could be very helpful to reduce poverty, compared to random aids provided by a total of 14 institutions today in Turkey.

If we look at the data announced in early January by the Turkish Statistical Institute, or TurkStat, there are 12.7 million poor people in the country; a significant increase compared to previous years.

It means Turkey seriously faces a poverty problem.

And this cannot be lowered by distribution of coal, pasta or non-systematic financial aids, which are termed as “alms.”

14 billion in 2009

If it were, the 14 billion Turkish Liras that Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan said was distributed among the poor in 2009 would’ve helped.

The CHP’s “Family Insurance” move to provide systematic and, more importantly, transparent financial aid to the poor receives support from academic circles.

For instance, one of the founders of the “Social Policy Forum” at Boğaziçi University and has been studying on poverty for years, Professor Ayşe Buğra is one of those that give importance to the “Family Insurance.”

She says the “cash transfer” to the poor implemented in the European Union, South America, Asia and Africa reaches its target.

According to Buğra, cash transfer causes a 10-point drop in the poverty figures.

The CHP’s “Family Insurance” program is an implementation to pull the concept of “social services experts” to the fore, which is unfortunately not very common in Turkey yet.

Social services experts determine which family needs how much assistance.

Currently, aid is distributed randomly upon a request by a village or neighborhood head or neighbors of the poor.

Personal development support to youth

One of the important obstacles before the CHP’s “Family Insurance” is the lack of social services specialists. The total number of them in Turkey is only 5,000.

With this figure, it is impossible to fully apply the program.

As far as I see, however, the CHP plans to provide training in order to close the gap.

Another leg of Kılıçdaroğlu’s election moves is about the youth.

The day after the announcement of the “Family Insurance,” the CHP announced “GenceArtı” (A Plus for the Youth) project to create jobs for the youth.

The project is being conducted by one of the leading businesswomen in Ankara and also a CHP Party Assembly member, Aylin Nazlıaka.

The other day, Nazlıaka invited me to the province of Düzce, where the project is given a start. She says “personal development” seminars will be organized for the youth, who need jobs in 30 cities.

The “GenceArtı” project seems to support our education system to raise the next generations with self-confidence.

Similar programs to the “Family Insurance” and “GenceArtı” will be announced in the upcoming days, says Kılıçdaroğlu.

Will we see how the CHP’s social state move will be reflected in the ballot box?

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