May 18 2019

AKP municipality in northwestern Turkey spends $ 1.4 million on flowers in 2018

A municipality run by the ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey’s northwestern province of Kocaeli purchased flowers worth 8.6 million liras ($ 1.4 million) in 2018, opposition newspaper Sözcü reported on Saturday.

“The topic we are most concentrated on is just what the municipality of Kartepe did with 8.6 million liras worth of flowers and where they sent them,’’ Sözcü quoted main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Group Deputy Chairman Hasan Bayrak as saying regarding the expenditure that caused a stir during 2018 budget debates.

The expenditures of AKP municipalities have come under the spotlight and drawn criticism after the Islamist party lost five of Turkey’s most populous provinces to the main opposition CHP in the March 31 local elections. Critics maintain the latest local polls were the AKP’s greatest electoral defeat in its 17 years in power.

Kartepe’s AKP Deputy Mayor Mehmet Filiz released a statement following the report on flower expenditures, indicating an error had been made in municipal records.

“An expenditure for 245 single roses purchased for an event at 3.54 ($ 0.58) liras per unit, was reported as 3540 liras ($ 584) per unit,’’ Filiz said, indicating an erroneous calculation.

CHP dismissed the explanation as the AKP deputy mayor’s attempt to cover up the incident, pointing to many abnormalities in other spendings by the municipality of Kartepe.