Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, President of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey said, "When banks see a 1 point rise in costs, they reflect it to the customer as a 5-point rise. That’s not fair. The most profitable banking system in Europe is the Turkish banking system. How can it be?”


Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey

​"When banks see a 1 point rise in costs, they reflect it to the customer as a 5-point rise. That’s not fair”

26.03.2013 / İzmit

Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, President of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey said, "When banks see a 1 point rise in costs, they reflect it to the customer as a 5-point rise. That’s not fair. The most profitable banking system in Europe is the Turkish banking system. How can it be?”


Delivering a presentation at 2013 Kartepe Economy Summit organized by Economy Journalists Association (EGD) every year, Hisarcıklıoğlu said they expected the banks to take a more conscientious attitude. 

In response to a question Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “You know banks represent an indispensable element of economy.   But we say they should be conscientious.  What we want is that they act with conscience.  They enjoyed a dramatic blast in profits.  The problem is that they increased deposit interest 1 point up last year, but they increased the interest on loans by 5 points.  In other words, when they see a 1 point rise in costs, they reflect 5 folds of such increase to the customer. That’s not fair.  The most profitable banking system in Europe is the Turkish banking system.  How can it be?”  Of course they need to make profits, but we have paid their losses in 2001.  We don’t want such a thing.  You place deposits at a bank, and your deposit interest rate rises by 1 point, but the same company will take a loan at a rate which is 5 points above the deposit rate.    That is unfair, unscrupulousness… Honestly.”

Pointing out that TOBB accounted for 75% of the national income, Hisarcıklıoğlu said the Turkish business world provided 1 million 100 thousand new jobs from the previous November to November 2012.   Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “TOBB represents 12 million 600 thousand jobs as the umbrella organization of the private sector in Turkey.  It accounts for 82 percent of the investments in Turkey and about 90% of the exports from Turkey.”

Referring to Europe in response to criticisms raised from time to time about the compulsory membership system, Hisarcıklıoğlu, who, at the same time, is the Vice-president of Eurochambers, said he knew the monthly fees paid by every chamber in Europe, and that the lowest monthly fees were charged in Turkey.  

Pointing out that they, as TOBB, created a new entrepreneurship index, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, "I announce the entrepreneurship index for the first time in here.   The index is calculated as the ratio which the newly formed companies in a province bear to the population of, and the number of firms in that province.  Ankara is listed in the first rank with 2.19 points, Istanbul and Eskişehir the second with 2.10 points, and Antalya the third with 1.86 points.  Ankara is now a city of entrepreneurs.  The reason why Ankara is listed the first is that Ankara is the city where there is a multiplicity of universities and technoparks, and technology-based enterprises of Turkey are mostly clustered.”   

Pointing out that they started the “Turkey 100 Program” to choose the most rapidly growing 100 companies of Turkey in the period between 2010 - 2012, Hisarcıklıoğlu said they sponsored businessmen, and backed up those members who came up with profitable projects.   

Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “Last year we offered 5 thousand 22 sureties guarantees through the Loan Guarantee Fund, and our members used a sum of 6 billion liras of loan from banks in return for a guarantee of 1.5 trillion.” 

Reminding that imprisonment penalty imposed on charges of dishonored cheques was revoked, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, "What was the reason? Exactly 240 bin files were about to be approved by the Supreme Court of Appeals.  Had they been approved, 240 thousand people would go to jail.  Owners of 240 thousand companies… The capacity of prisons in Turkey is 144 thousand.  The number of dishonored cheques increased by 52 percent this year.  Presently, companies in Turkey experience payment hardship, and difficulties in collections.  In response to the increase which occurred in line with the revocation of the penalty, we carried out a study in cooperation with the Credit Bureau of Turkey (KKB) in order to give an end to the risk of dishonored cheques.   After we complete the trainings the next week, it will become active."

Hisarcıklıoğlu pointed out that members who register as members of the system would be able to see counterfeit cheques and said, “In the case of cheques, one will be able to send the cheque number via SMS and confirm whether the cheque is counterfeit or stolen or not."

Telling that they received 90 thousand job requests from companies in the scope of UMEM Beceri’10 (Specialized Profession Acquisition Centers Project), Hisarcıklıoğlu said, "Now 60 thousand people are under training, and thousand people have completed their training, we have provided jobs to 32 thousand people.  The most successful provinces are Kocaeli and Sakarya… Do you know why? The foreigners understand this system better than we do.  Ford and Toyota are the two companies who benefited most from the system in the said provinces.


Telling that he was elected co-president to the committee comprised of 4 merchants from each Palestinian and Israeli sides which has been set up to solve the commercial problem between Israel and Palestine, Hisarcıklıoğlu said:  “Palestine imports about 85% of its needs over Israel.  Do you know why? If you sell your goods directly to Palestine, your goods will wait in a container at Haifa port for 45 to 60 days.  But if you sell your goods to somebody in Israel, your goods will wait only for one day.  Thus, Palestinian merchants carry out their trades over Israel.   Naturally, there are disagreements.  These are settled by Israeli courts.  Now, I am acting as the co-president of the arbitration committee there.

We are making this representation as the umbrella organization of the Turkish private sector.  Let me tell you what we do.   Now, the decision is not made in Ankara, the decision is made in Brussels, the decision is taken at Geneva at the World Trade Organization.   The decision is taken in New York, Washington.  If you are not active at such places, there you will not be active at the international institutions.   They are the ones who make the decision, and your parliament delays its decisions related to trade for a couple of years, but introduces the law.  For that reason, we have to be active internationally.  ''

- Turkish Diaspora

Telling that they carried out various studies in order to bring the Turkish lobby in the world to a certain point, Hisarcıklıoğlu said:  “We went to Paris in 2006.  The “Alleged Armenian Genocide Draft Law" was to be discussed at the French Senate.   When we went there for lobbying activities, there was only one group in front of the Senate.  It was an Armenian group and they threw eggs to us.  But, we knew that there were 500 thousand Turks, too.  But, they had not made any organization.  Armenians organized a group and threw eggs to us.  But, Turks were not there.  Therefore, we felt the lack of a Turkish Diaspora, and set up the institution that would invoke the Turkish Diaspora in the whole world.

With in the context of the circular-letter of the Prime Minister we set up an organization that gathered Turkish entrepreneurs from all over the world under one umbrella (The World Turkish Entrepreneurs Council).     As a result of these efforts, we saw that there were Armenians and also Turks in front of the French Senate when we went there in 2011.

-''Had this law been introduced, it would have  brought a burden of 6 billion liras on SMEs"

Stating that he was proud of the amendments to the Turkish Commercial Code (TCC), Hisarcıklıoğlu said that one of the most useful efforts which TOBB used for the benefit of its members was to lead the amendment of the TCC. 

Telling that TCC, which was initially a modern law, contained various applications which were in consistent with the conditions of the day and the world, Hisarcıklıoğlu said it was a great success to change those conditions.

Extending his thanks to the ruling party and the parties represented at TBMM for their support on this matter, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “ Had this law been introduced (in its initial version), the burden it would impose on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) would have increased by 6 billion liras.   SMEs could not have overcome such a burden.  Some people say that I have acted wrongly in respect of amendments in TCC.  I certainly don’t agree with it.   I have to defend the benefits of members and the country both.”

Stating that 18 types of imprisonment penalties were revoked before they become effective with the amendments to TCC, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “A company whose signboard dropped would pay 73 thousand liras of fine.   I mean, if it got loose of its connection and dropped, then you would pay 73 thousand liras… When you were unable to pay it, you would face imprisonment up to 730 days.”

-“If you have to give an account in the end, you need to pass the class for the deeds you have done here"

In response to a question whether he would be a candidate or not again, Hisarcıklıoğlu said that one had to pass several stages of election under the new election system, and added, “You can’t say you are a candidate before passing all those stages of election.   To become a candidate you have to pass all the stages.  When you pass those stages, you need to talk to your family, your business partners, friends, and the community of the chambers union, and it will not be right to say such a thing before consulting them.”

In response to allegations that he would enter politics, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “The post I presently occupy is a post of service.”, and added:   “You can serve at any post.  You can also serve in politics.  You can serve as a chairman of an association.  Everybody has a separate role.  If everybody does his role well, then everybody will have a contribution to the development of the country.  Are all of us bound to die in the end? Yes, we are.  Are we bound to account for our deeds in the end? Yes, we are.  That’s what I believe.  If you have to give an account in the end, you need to pass the class for the deeds you have done here. You must be happy if you serve well in your position…”

-NACE Application

Telling that they had to adopt a change (NACE) due to use of incorrect codes by companies when establishing profession groups which are the basic components of the chambers, Hisarcıklıoğlu said made a reference to a past statement of Nihat Ergün, Minister of Science, Industry and Technology.    Hisarcıklıoğlu said: “In 2011, Minister Ergün said, ‘According to our records, Turk Telecom is seen as a construction company.  TOFAŞ deals with trading of cars.’  The authority was held by the councils and executive boards of our chambers.  If you ask me whether grouping was done properly in the past or not… The statements of Minister Ergün explain everything.”

Stating that they started classification studies as per the instruction of Minister Ergün saying, “group all your members again according to the activity code, and hold chamber elections accordingly", which was sent to TOBB in 2011, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “When we started re-grouping companies according to their activity codes, we knew that no institution in Turkey knew the number of active companies.  And the same company was seen to be acting in different fields of activity.  It was something else in TUİK, something else in SGK, something else in TOBB, and something else in Revenue Administration.  Thus, it was impossible to design the trade and industry inventory, investment subsidies, industrial and finance policies.“ 

-“Two thirds of the companies in Turkey were recorded differently by our chambers.”

Telling that they came together with the relevant institutions to work on a solution following the instruction, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “A decision was made, this activity had to be led by the Revenue Administration.   The Administration asked the merchants, industrialists, traders, 'What business do you do? There are 2 thousand 183 NACE activity codes within the NACE classification given by Europe.   Which of them are you engaged in?”, the administration asked to 1 million 500 thousand companies.  The point where we lived the real shock was that two thirds of the companies in Turkey were recorded differently by our chambers. We made a ground-breaking business by correcting all these.  NACE codes of 68 percent of the chambers changed.  Every enterprise declared its own NACE code. Neither TOBB nor the Income Administration assigned any NACE code to any  enterprise.”

Hisarcıklıoğlu said when carrying out this application, they even took the photographs and GPS coordinates of their members and stated that they made it possible to find a company belonging to any activity code easily.  

In respect of the discussions as to whether the NACE classification was fair or not, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “Sometimes foreign investors used to come and ask me to give a list of shoe producers in Konya.   I would not give them the list although I had it.  The list of shoe producers in the list contained outfitters, car repairers, real estate agencies, etc.  When NACE codes were determined in the previous period, we had no objective criteria. Now we have objective criteria.  Everything is assessed on the basis of revenue.”

Telling that they received a request to defer chamber elections, Hisarcıklıoğlu said they were sure that they did the right things.

Pointing out that the allegations of a “dominant election” were not true, Hisarcıklıoğlu said:  “Lists of profession groups were delivered to our chambers on January 7.  They were posted on the internet on January 10.  Everybody had the opportunity to inquire them.

But, there were allegations of a “dominant election”, and statements that could bring discredit to the TOBB community.  This credit was important for us.  This was the real source of the requests for a deferral of the elections.   After the objections, a commission was formed.  When the Commission evaluated the requests in close consultation with the Ministry of Customs and Commerce, it used its discretion in favor of the member to the extent it did not conflict with the legislation.  The Commission could not find any material error in any of the professional groupings.  It was seen that TOBB did not make any error of fact in respect of professional committees, in other words, there was no transaction which was in breach of legislation and law.  As a result of the studies of the commission, the profession groups of only 19 chambers and commodity exchanges changed, in other words, approximately 5 percent.  There were no changes in 346, i.e. 95% of 365 chambers and commodity exchanges.  The number of groups in 365 chambers and commodity exchanges rose from 3 thousand 659 to 3 thousand 688.  The number of groups only increased by 8 thousandths.  The number of council members rose from 9 thousand 650 to 9 thousand 710.”

-'As the President of TOBB, 'I do not get any allowance ”

Stating that he did not get any money as the President of the Chambers Union, Hisarcıklıoğlu said:  “When I leave Ankara as the President of Chambers Union, or when I go abroad, I am entitled to get an allowance.  I do not take it.  My mobile number has not changed since 1992.  I do whatever I do only to serve.  This is not a place to make money any longer.  When you come to this post, whichever duty you assume, you are far from your business, family and friends.”

In response to a question about the cash held by TOBB, Hisarcıklıoğlu said that trust was more important than cash in business life.

Telling that chamber elections were one of the capillary vessels of democracy, Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that democracy was important for them, and said “ ''TÜSİAD, MÜSİAD, TUSKON, TÜMSİAD, ASKON, TÜRKONFED…  All of them are our members. We must not be afraid of an organized society.  If we want democracy to improve, we need to clear the way for more organization.”

-'Number of woman employers increased by 6 thousand'

Stating that despite a rise of 6 thousand in the number of woman employers last year, the number of man employers decreased by 12 thousand, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “In 2012, women accounted for half of the new employments.  And the number of  new woman entrepreneurs exceeded the number of men.  'Number of woman employers increased by 6 thousand in 2012 compared with 2012.  In other words, the highest number of women ever seen participated in working life.   I think that the formation and active operations of TOBB Woman Entrepreneurs Council had a great role in that.   The seed we have sowed survived.”

-“TOBB starts Turkey 100’

Pointing out that they started “Turkey 100 Program" to choose the most quickly growing companies of Turkey in the period between 2010 - 2012, Hisarcıklıoğlu gave the following information: "In order to attain the 2023 targets, we need entrepreneurs who are able to grow their companies quickly.  We know that there are such successful entrepreneurs in every sector and in all provinces of Turkey.  We want the world to know these companies.  For this reason, we launched the Turkey 100 Program.  After having completed Turkey 25 successfully last year, we decided to start Turkey 100 this time.  In cooperation with AllWorld Network, established by Michael Porter, a professor of Harward University Business School, and TEPAV, we set out to identify the most quickly growing 100 companies of Turkey.  Winning companies will be introduced nationally and internationally.   Thereby, new customers and investors will be informed of the achievements of these companies.  Turkey 100 companies will be entitled to attend AllWorld Harvard Summit to be held at Harvard University.  They will learn the clues to access the US market.  The success criterion is the sales income growth rate in the period between 2010-2012.  Application conditions are available at  www.turkiye100.org. The deadline for the submission of applications is 30 April 2013.”

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