State banks shut out city

Pretoria News - - WORLD - | Reuters

IS­TAN­BUL’S new mayor has said Turkey’s state banks stopped mak­ing rou­tine loans to the city af­ter a June elec­tion in which he pulled off a shock vic­tory over Pres­i­dent Tayyip Er­do­gan’s rul­ing AK Party (AKP), forc­ing it to bor­row from abroad.

Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, of the main op­po­si­tion Repub­li­can Peo­ple’s Party (CHP), told re­porters on Sun­day that Turkey’s largest city needs more than 20 bil­lion lira (R51bn) in fi­nanc­ing, half of it for stalled metro projects.

Imamoglu, back in Is­tan­bul af­ter a fund-rais­ing tour of Euro­pean cap­i­tals, said all mu­nic­i­pal trans­ac­tions and salary pay­ments were made through state banks. The city would in­creas­ingly lean on for­eign lenders and pri­vate Turk­ish banks, he said.

“State banks are not even ex­tend­ing rou­tine loans af­ter the elec­tions to Is­tan­bul mu­nic­i­pal­ity. The doors of state banks are closed to us,” Imamoglu said of the city of around 16 mil­lion.

“I con­demn the man­agers of th­ese banks who show this kind of attitude to­wards the mu­nic­i­pal­ity. I have been pa­tient for the past five months,” he added.

The Trea­sury did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest to com­ment on the lend­ing by state banks, which ac­count for about 40% of over­all Turk­ish loans and de­posits.

In a June re-run poll, Imamoglu’s de­ci­sive vic­tory ended 25 years of rule in Is­tan­bul by the Is­lamist-rooted AKP and its pre­de­ces­sors, hand­ing Er­do­gan one of the most painful set­backs of his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer that be­gan as mayor of the city.

Imamoglu, seen by some as an even­tual pres­i­den­tial con­tender for the sec­u­lar­ist CHP, has vis­ited Paris, Ber­lin and Lon­don this month in part to seek fi­nanc­ing for un­der­ground rail projects stalled for two years.

He se­cured a €86 mil­lion (R1.3bn) loan deal from the French Devel­op­ment Agency, and a €110m loan from Deutsche Bank.

The CHP also de­feated the in­cum­bent AKP ear­lier this year in the cap­i­tal Ankara. Its new mayor, Mansur Yavas, said last week the cen­tral gov­ern­ment had “dis­re­garded” a pre­vi­ous deal over metro costs and cut the city’s shares by 5%, leav­ing Ankara “un­der a se­ri­ous fi­nan­cial bur­den”.

The gov­ern­ment has leaned on state banks to kick-start lend­ing since last year’s fi­nan­cial cri­sis and re­ces­sion.

Ac­cord­ing to re­search pub­lished in Jan­uary, the banks have “sys­tem­at­i­cally” ad­justed lend­ing pat­terns around elec­tions in the last 15 years to boost prov­inces where in­cum­bent may­ors from the rul­ing party faced tough chal­lenges.

State banks also cut lend­ing in prov­inces where op­po­si­tion may­ors faced tight elec­tions, said the pa­per, pub­lished by re­searchers at the Euro­pean Bank for Re­con­struc­tion and Devel­op­ment and Lon­don School of Eco­nom­ics. | Reuters

THE top US gen­eral said yes­ter­day that as far as he was con­cerned the case of a Navy Seal con­victed of bat­tle­field mis­con­duct in Iraq was now closed, a day af­ter De­fence Sec­re­tary Mark Esper re­moved the Navy’s top civil­ian over the saga.

Esper fired Navy Sec­re­tary Richard Spencer on Sun­day over his han­dling of the is­sue of Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Chief Ed­ward Gal­lagher, who had won the back­ing of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

“I think at this point the sec­re­tary of de­fence has made de­ci­sions (and) the case is now, in my view, closed,” Army Gen­eral Mark Mil­ley, chair­per­son of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told re­porters.

He said the hir­ing and fir­ing of civil­ian lead­er­ship at the Pen­tagon was out of his purview as top US gen­eral.

The Seal was ac­quit­ted by a mil­i­tary jury in July of mur­der­ing a cap­tured and wounded Is­lamic State fighter in Iraq by stab­bing him in the neck, but it con­victed him of il­le­gally pos­ing with the de­tainee’s corpse. That had led to his rank be­ing reduced.

Esper also de­ter­mined that Gal­lagher should be al­lowed to re­tain his Tri­dent pin des­ig­nat­ing him as a Seal – ef­fec­tively end­ing the Navy’s ef­forts to carry out a peer re­view that could have ousted him from the elite force.

Trump, who pub­licly op­posed tak­ing away Gal­lagher’s Tri­dent pin and had in­ter­vened in the case to re­store his rank, cheered Esper’s moves.

“Ed­die will re­tire peace­fully with all of the hon­ours he has earned,” Trump said on Twit­ter.

The White House said in Novem­ber that Trump had re­stored Gal­lagher’s rank and had par­doned two Army of­fi­cers ac­cused of war crimes in Afghanista­n. Crit­ics had said such ac­tions would un­der­mine mil­i­tary jus­tice and sent a mes­sage that bat­tle­field atroc­i­ties would be tol­er­ated.

Mil­ley said he be­lieved that the US mil­i­tary re­mained a dis­ci­plined force.

“This case ob­vi­ously raises a va­ri­ety of ques­tions, but in the main, I think the United States mil­i­tary re­mains and will al­ways re­main a very highly dis­ci­plined force.”

In a let­ter ac­knowl­edg­ing his ter­mi­na­tion, and seen by Reuters, Spencer took part­ing shots at Trump and de­fended the need to pre­serve “good or­der and dis­ci­pline through­out the ranks” – some­thing Navy of­fi­cials had be­lieved the peer re­view board would help en­sure.

Trump said he would nom­i­nate the US en­voy to Norway, Ken Braith­waite, to re­place Spencer as Navy sec­re­tary. |

IS­TAN­BUL Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu says the city needs funds to fi­nance metro projects that are be­ing with­held af­ter his party’s vic­tory in elec­tions ear­lier this year.

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