State Planning Organization (SPO)

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Organization set up in Turkey in 1960 to administer national economic development.

Turkey first experimented with central planning in the 1930s, but with the focus only on industrialization. Between 1950 and 1960, the Democratic Party governments were criticized for their opposition to any kind of economic planning. The agricultural sector was virtually tax exempt. After the military intervention of May 1960, planning became a priority. Accordingly, the principle of indicative, not compulsory, planning was written into the 1961 constitution. The State Planning Organization (SPO) was created to draw up five-year plans covering all aspects of economic development, as well as long-term plans and annual programs. The institutional structure of the SPO was designed to create a degree of independence and security for the technical experts charged with preparing the plans and to facilitate cooperation between them and political authorities. The final authority was supposed to lie with the High Planning Council.

During the discussion of the first five-year plan, there were differences of opinion between planners and military bureaucrats. In contrast to the planners' liberal-productive conception of the state, the military bureaucrats remained loyal to an etatist patrimonial tradition that gave priority to social justice and full employment over economic growth and efficiency. With the transition to civilian rule in October 1961, the climate changed radically. The Justice Party viewed the SPO as a political tool of a military-cum-bureaucratic elite, to which they were opposed by both interest and instinct. Although the party had to implement the constitutional requirement, the party leadership was anxious to limit the planners' power.

After 1965 representatives of the private sector, who had been virtually excluded from the preparation of the first plan, were fully consulted on the second, which was to run from 1967 to 1972. The new constitution of 1982 endorsed planning, and a decree of 1984 reorganized the SPO and attached it to the office of the prime minister.

The SPO is headed by an undersecretary. It consists of eight departments: Economic Planning; Social Planning; Coordination; Priority Regional Development; Relations with the European Union; Credit Allocation; Foreign Capital Investment; and Evaluation of Yearly Programs. The SPO also maintains permanent representatives in international economic organizations and major foreign capitals. In spite of its elaborate organizational structure and its constitutionally defined task, the state bureaucracy regards the suggestions and recommendations of the SPO as a hindrance to its administrative tasks.

The most important achievement of the SPO is the realization of the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP). This project is a multisector and integrated regional development effort approached in the context of sustainable development. The project covers nine administrative provinces established in the basin of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers. The program envisages the construction of 22 dams and 19 hydraulic power plants and irrigation of 1.7 million hectares. The total cost is estimated at $32 billion (in 1997 prices). The GAP represents a major part of the Eighth Five-Year Development Plan (20012006). The SPO also is involved in the preparation of the pre-accession structural changes required by the European Union.


Hale, William. The Political and Economic Development of Modern Turkey. London: Croom Helm, 1981.

Milor, Vedat. "The Genesis of Planning in Turkey." New Perspectives on Turkey, 4 (1990): 130.

Pamuk, Şevket, and Owen, Roger. A History of the Middle East Economies in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998.

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