New Istanbul mayor highlights $24 million overspending on car rentals

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Istanbul mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu has displayed hundreds of cars rented under the previous Justice and Development Party (AKP) administration to draw attention to wasteful spending by the ruling party.

The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IBB)’s inflated budget and the vast amounts it has transferred to charitable foundations under AKP leadership have been widely discussed by critics following this year’s local elections in March.

IBB signed a contract worth over 138 million liras ($24.3 million) for 2,432 rental cars in 2019, nationalist opposition daily Sözcü said on Thursday, adding that the municipality had signed a 102-million-lira ($18 million) deal in 2018.

Both tenders were won by Platform Turizm, a company described by Turkish press outlets as being government-linked.

Opposition mayors have made a point of highlighting overspending since gaining key municipalities including Istanbul and Ankara from the AKP in this year’s local elections.

In August İmamoğlu announced that he had cut some $60 million of funding to foundations linked to the AKP. Ankara’s new CHP mayor, Mansur Yavaş, announced in July that his administration had registered a budget surplus after inheriting billions of liras in debt when it took over the municipality in April.

"This is just a small start," the Istanbul provincial head of the CHP, Canan Kaftancıoğlu said on Twitter, adding that the CHP mayor would continue to prioritise the public over business interests.