New mayor in Yalova demands investigation into previous spending

ISTANBUL (CIHAN)- The newly elected mayor of Yalova province, Vefa Salman of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), has requested that inspectors from the Interior Ministry look into spending totaling TL 972,740,000 billed to his municipality for expenses incurred between Jan. 3 and April 3.

Salman won Yalova by six votes after a recount. The nearly TL 1,000,000 bill for mainly catering expenses, which Yalman claims was for free meals given to voters ahead of the March 30 elections, needs to be investigated by inspectors from the ministry, Salman told the press. The total of more than TL 972,000,000 covered 74,700 servings of grilled meat on rice pilaf, breakfast and a reception in addition to small presents Salman believes were given to voters.

The mayor has said he will not be paying the total amount, which is made up of 13 invoices. The invoices state that meals were given to groups of between 100 and 7,920 people at various times. The municipality hosted 4,000 people nine times paying between TL 60,730 and TL 213,958 for a total of 74,700 portions. Two other invoices, compiled for small giveaways such as notepads, bags, calendars, umbrellas and books, totaled more than TL 300,000.

He also said he had ordered an investigation into a tender that promised TL 453,000 in return for the rental of eight passenger vehicles. The mayor, who spoke to the Hurriyet newspaper, said the total annual budget of the municipality is TL 90,000,000, adding that the municipality has an outstanding debt of TL 109,000,000.

“The former administration said I should go to the judiciary, as they claimed that the bills are for 200 poor families. We have no problems with meals bought for those in need I will have more of those organized. The day we won, they dumped the food into the garbage and said we stopped the food aid. There is such a smear campaign. I had called on prosecutors to act three times during the election period, saying that the [former] administration was using the municipal budget for the mayor’s campaign.”

He said the invoices looked suspicious in many respects. “About TL 400,000 was billed for meals that were eaten at the same place. That venue cannot possibly host that many people at the same time, so there is the possibility that not all the portions that appear on the invoice were actually eaten.” He said he also had tip-offs confirming this suspicion. “It’s been only five days since I took office, and I have spotted 150 people on the municipality’s payroll, although they don’t actually work here.”

(CihanToday’s Zaman) C