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CBP: The Black Hole of the Unemployment Fund

The Unemployment Fund was created by the premiums cut from workers’ wages, just in case workers would become unemployed and benefit from it. Then 21.8 billion Turkish Liras have been spent for the unemployed since the day the Unemployment Fund was established. In the last four years, at least 20 billion Turkish Liras have been used for the CBP (Community Benefit Program), which was formed within the Institution for Providing Jobs and Employees. Therefore, Sinan Ok -an employment specialist- calls the CBP “The Black Hole of the Unemployment Fund”, and claims that “the fund has been and is used as political patronage”.

İrfan Uçar reports from Turkey.

The Community Benefit Program (CBP) and the Job Training Programs which were put into practice using the Unemployment Insurance Fund managed by the Institution for Providing Jobs and Employees (IPJE) under the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services have been heavily criticised. The employment expert, Sinan Ok points out that the Unemployment Fund is utilised with political motives, especially during election periods, and states that the CBP and the Job Training Programs are exploited as political tools. The employment specialist, Sinan Ok thus calls the CBP “The Black Hole of the Unemployment Fund”, and asserts that “the fund is used as political patronage”.
“The CBP was established with the aims of supporting the culinary expenses of the people dismissed from the institutions privatised in 2003 and the unemployed, encouraging these citizens in the labor market, and protecting them from experiencing professional deformation. In its early years, the CBP was a program benefited by less than a thousand people. There were many years during which it was not implemented up until the financial crisis of 2009. From the 2009 crisis until 2014, this was a program from which less than a thousand unemployed people, i.e. a symbolic number of citizens, benefited,” Sinan Ok says about the establishment and implementation stages of the CBP. And he criticises the CBP by saying “This system has neither reduced unemployment, nor improved employment outcomes, or provided any professional positions for the unemployed and the dismissed.”


Previously, an unemployed person used to benefit from the CBP only one time. “The unemployed used to be selected according to a lottery draw in the presence of a notary public and are then included in the beneficiary list of the program,” Ok says. And, “The system was modified before the 2014 election,” he adds. “Then the requirement that a notary public must be present was removed. In accordance with the new selection procedure, an unemployed person was able to be selected twice by means of the list system,” Ok mentions. “Next, it turned out that it was actually carried out three or four times. The four-month working period was increased to six months first, and then up to nine months. Initially, the person themselves has often been included in the beneficiary list of the CBP program, second their siblings, and then their spouse. This means that all members of the same family have been funded in turn by the Unemployment Fund. The Unemployment Fund has thus been used as a kind of political patronage.”
“The Community Benefit Program (CBP) is used extensively in cities such as Ankara, Kilis and Urfa. And the number of the program beneficiaries has reached around 20-30 thousand from time to time in Kilis and Urfa,” Ok says and adds: “For instance, some time ago there were more program beneficiaries than the civil servants in Kilis. In 2017, there were 267 thousand program beneficiaries. Just 180 thousand of these people were included in the beneficiary list of the program in March and April due to the referendum on 16 April 2017. In 2015, there were almost 500 thousand people benefited from the CBP, because there were both June 7 and November 1 elections in the same year. The Unemployment Fund was spent just to win the election.”


Sinan Ok states that the most striking data relates to the year 2018. He points out that the number of employees within the CBP is 8 thousand 250 in January, February, March and April. “The election decision was taken on 20 April. In May, June, July and August, the number of people benefiting from the CBP increased to 300,000. By the end of November 333 thousand people had already benefited from this program. When we look at the data mentioned, it is revealed that the Unemployment Fund is used as a tool merely to win elections,” Ok says.


Ok points out that schools were closed in June, though in July and August new cleaning personnel was employed within the scope of the CBP in schools. He takes attention to that schools, municipalities and muftiates have been places where most employees were employed as part of the CBP. Ok also states that the co-mayors of Batman, Diyarbakır and Van municipalities were dismissed and replaced them with appointed trustees and then many employees were recruited within the scope of the CBP. “There are 3.5-4 million employees in the public sector and 350-400 thousand of these people are directly linked to the CBP. Now, almost all public institutions have employees who work as part of the CBP,” Ok expresses.

Ok underlines that according to the Turkish Court of Accounts’ audit report relating to the activities of the Institution for Providing Jobs and Employees in 2017, an employee who works within the scope of the CBP costs twelve thousand Turkish liras per year. And he also explains: “When we take into consideration the changes in the minimum wage in 2018, we can assume that the annual cost of an employee is 15 thousand Turkish liras, which is withdrawn from the Unemployment Fund. This means that five billion Turkish liras were overspent or misused from the Fund in 2018.”


Ok criticises the fact that the Institution for Providing Jobs and Employees does not share detailed data on the CBP and does not provide any details of their expenditure items. He also speculates that 1.5 million people have been benefited from the CBP to date. “21.8 billion Turkish liras have been spent on the unemployed since 2002 while 20 billion Turkish liras have been spent on the CBP mostly since the year 2014. Following the June 24 elections, in July, 4.5 billion Turkish liras were spent. The July expenditures made up 155 percent of the revenues. The fund was and is being misused. CBP is the black hole of the Unemployment Fund,” he asserts.

Sinan Ok


Sinan Ok puts forward that there is no mechanism to control whether the employees recruited within the scope of the CBP both live and work in the same city, and whether they go to work or not. “The Institution for Providing Jobs and Employees (IPJE) has 7 thousand employees, and these employees have many responsibilities. 333 thousand people seem to be working as part of the CBP, but IPJE has not enough personnel to monitor a program of this size. The number of employees who do not go to work within the scope of CBP is jaw-droppingly high. The only thing we know is that 300, 400, 500 thousand people as part of the CBP receive money through the Post Office (PTT),” he says.


Sinan Ok states that the records were kept as if 278 thousand people started working as an intern and apprentice as part of the Job Training Program between January and November 2018. “When someone is employed in a workplace, their wage is then paid from the Unemployment Fund. The unemployment fund which the unemployed should receive goes directly to the employer. As a result of the way in which this program has been implemented, the following fact also unfolds itself: a previously unregistered employee was registered as a new employee, and some of the Unemployment Fund was spent for this reason. A worse example includes pretending that a person works as part of the CBP and halving the share this person receives from the Unemployment Fund,” he notes.
Translation: Ümit Keskin

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