State banks shut out city
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.