A Turkish armoured vehicle on patrol near the south eastern town of Sirnak, near the Turkey-Iraq border in Sirnak, Turkey. (Photographer: Staton Winter/Bloomberg News)

Turkey Lets Men Buy Way Out of Military Service, Padding Budget

(Bloomberg) -- Turkey plans to make a temporary plan that allowed male citizens to buy their way out of most of their required military service into a permanent program, helping boost the country’s budget.

Men are required to serve six to 12 months in the military, but have been able to pay a fee and serve just a month instead under temporary rules. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the new military service system Sunday during a rally speech in the Balikesir province.

Turkish rules allowed so-called “paid” military service only four times in the last 20 years. Once was after a devastating earthquake in 1999 in Marmara region and the others were in 2011, 2014 and in 2018. In December, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Turkey had collected 9.5 billion liras ($1.8 billion) in 2018 in service fees from more than 635,000 applicants, according to state-run Anadolu Agency.

Erdogan told the crowd that the program would be limited to 145,000 men a year, depending on the Army’s needs. While the fee was 15,000 liras last year, the government has yet to set a new rate.

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