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Turkish minister's car comment backfires

2015-05-26 08:46

FOOT IN MOUTH? Turkey Finance Mehmet Simsek created a stir after defending spending on posh cars by the government. Image: Supplied

ANKARA, Turkey - Turkey's finance minister has come under attack for defending government gobbling up the equivalent of about R15.5-billion on luxury cars and other vehicles for officials as "peanuts."

Mehmet Simsek made the remark as he tried to justify a move by the country's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who promised to provide an armoured Mercedes to the country's top Muslim cleric.

'PEANUTS IN THE BUDGET'

The cleric had earlier returned such a vehicle following public uproar over the extravagance.

Simsek said the sum was "peanuts" compared to Turkey's budget.

Outraged opposition party leaders, addressing crowds at election rallies ahead of Turkey's June 7 elections,  said the money could have been spent to improve pensions or to aid Palestinians.

Erdogan has himself been criticised for moving into a 1150-room palace that opponents say was constructed despite a court injunction.

Come to South Africa, sir, and let our guys show you how to do it! - Ed


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