Istanbul municipality overwhelmed by $3 billion debt – opposition councillor

A Turkish councillor for Turkish main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has drawn attention to Istanbul’s burgeoning debt balance during a speech at the city’s municipal council, calling it symptomatic of the severe economic problems experienced by Turkey on a broader scale this year.

After taking aim at the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s recent economic record in his speech, CHP Istanbul councillor Gökhan Yüksel discussed the “mire” of debt Turkey’s largest city has found itself in, with over 3 billion lira ($519 million) borrowed in the last six months alone.

This brings the city’s total debt to a staggering 17.5 billion lira, ($3.03 billion), the CHP councillor said.

“These figures are rising every year and they show the Istanbul Municipality is swamped in debt,” said Yüksel, before asking the Istanbul councillors to take into account his concerns when they prepare the budget for 2019.

Turkey has had a difficult year in economic terms, with high inflation coupled with a volatile political situation that has seen the Turkish lira plummet over 35 per cent against the dollar.

A spate of diplomatic crises with allies including the United States have contributed to the currency’s weakness, as have concerns about the degree of the AKP government’s control over the Turkish economy.

Yüksel raised his concerns that the weak economy had led Turkey into a period of stagflation, and took to task the AKP’s Finance and Treasury Minister, Berat Albayrak, for his abortive attempt to address the country’s economic problems by hiring the U.S. consultancy firm McKinsey. The agreement was cancelled the following week after widespread protest amid criticism.