New İstanbul mayor says municipality’s financial situation is ‘hair raising’

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Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu at İstanbul city council.

Ekrem İmamoğlu, who was elected the new mayor of İstanbul in a repeat election on June 23, has said the municipality is financially in tatters and that his predecessor from the Justice and Development Party (AKP) left him with TL 5.8 billion in debt, Turkish media reported on Monday.

İmamoğlu held the first city council meeting on Monday after he assumed the mayoral post in Turkey’s financial powerhouse, which has been ruled by the AKP and its predecessors for the past 25 years.

At the meeting İmamoğlu revealed the financial situation of the municipality, saying there was only TL 7 million in the municipality’s budget when he took over, while it has a current debt of TL 5.8 billion.

The new mayor said he would always be transparent while performing his job as he promised during his election campaign, so he felt the need to share some data about the municipality’s current budget with the public.

“In order to give an accounting to my nation, I wanted a financial photo of the municipality’s current situation. It was done speedily and presented to me three days later. The photo I have seen is really unsettling and hair-raising,” said İmamoğlu.

The new mayor also said a regular payment made by the Finance Ministry to the municipality every July was paid earlier this year before the municipal election and that the funds, TL 980 million, were used up in a single week before he assumed office.

“Not a single Turkish kuruş was left to pay taxes or monthly salaries,” İmamoğlu said, adding that the municipality cannot make any payments for the month of July and that this will lead to problems in the delivery of municipal services.

During his election campaign İmamoğlu promised to stop the waste of municipal funds, saying he would spend every kuruş for the benefit of İstanbul residents and stop the flow of money to pro-government foundations from the municipal budget.

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