New Yalova mayor demands inspectors examine fraud in bills left over from previous AKP term
Bülent Sarıoğlu ANKARA / Hürriyet
The new mayor of Yalova, Vefa Salman, asked the Interior Ministry to send inspectors to examine the bills and expenses of the former municipal administration. DHA PhotoThe new mayor of Yalova, Vefa Salman, has refused to pay over 1 million Turkish Liras of bills for the expenses created in the last three months.
The expenses are those which had been accrued in ordering dinner, breakfast and cocktails, allegedly given to electorates as part of the former mayor’s election campaign.
Salman, who was elected as mayor of Yalova province in the March 30 local elections from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) by receiving only six votes more than his rival, said he refuses to pay for the former mayor’s spending of almost 1 million liras for the election campaign.
Salman said he refused to pay the bills for the expenses made between Jan. 3 and April 3 from the municipality’s budget. The bill was for the lunch of rice and meat, breakfast and cocktails for 74,700 people, amounting to 972,000 liras.
Salman asked the Interior Ministry to send inspectors to examine the bills and expenses of the former municipal administration.
The municipality also spent 155,000 liras and 163,000 liras on gifts such as of notebooks, bags, calendars, umbrellas and books, which are also claimed to be gifts distributed to the electorate before the elections by Yakup Koçal, the former mayor from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The total expenses made in the last three months are more than 1.3 million liras in total.
For his part, Koçal said the municipality distributes meals for 250 families, as well as for 250 students from the Yalova University, on a daily basis. Koçal also said these students are members of the Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen’s movement (Hizmet) and claimed they had supported the CHP ahead of the elections. He said all of the municipality’s spending is done within the legal framework.
“The municipality has 90-million lira budget, but has 109-million lira debt. I cannot pay these [bills]; there is not enough in the budget to pay for it,” Salman told daily Hürriyet. Salman also said his predecessor claimed these bills for the meals distributed to the poor people in the city, adding he has no problem with the meals distributed to the poor. “I will increase such aid. They began rumors that we would cut the aid to the poor after I became mayor. This is dark propaganda,” said Salman, denying the claims that he wants to cut aid to those in need. Salman, however, claimed that these meals were distributed to the potential electorates by the former mayor to get their votes in the March 30 elections.
“I had called on prosecutors to investigate these bills before the elections and urged them that the mayor will bill these expenses to the municipality. This is not legally or morally correct. It is also a sin,” Salman added.
He also claimed the meals totaling 400,000 liras were distributed in one certain location, and claimed that this location is not large enough to host that many people. Salman claimed that some of these meals might not have even been offered to anyone, but extra bills were charged to the municipality.
The CHP had announced the Yalova mayoralty on the southern coast of the Marmara Sea had changed hands after a recount following a tight electoral race on March 30.
The first official results gave the AKP’s Koçal victory over the CHP’s Salman by a single vote. However, the mayoralty changed hands after the recount, which found that Salman had obtained six more votes than his main rival, according to the CHP.