The coronavirus outbreak has cost Turkey’s largest city, İstanbul, more than 5 billion Turkish lira ($730 million), according to Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.
The cost could go up to over 6.5 billion lira ($950 million) if a second wave hits, Mayor İmamoğlu said on Wednesday at a meeting to mark his first year in office.
“The outbreak has had a huge negative impact on the financial structure of the municipality. Unfortunately, the coronavirus crisis left its mark on our first year, like it did on other cities and countries,” said İmamoğlu.
Revenue from public transport and cultural services operated by the municipality decreased to around 10 percent of the pre-pandemic amount, according to data provided by the mayor, making up the biggest part of the hit on the city’s budget.
İmamoğlu was elected in an election re-run last year on June 23, after the Supreme Election Council (YSK) said the initial elections on March 24 were marred by irregularities. On June 23, the mayor from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) won by a sweeping majority against his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) rival.
“When we assumed office, the municipality had no money even to pay people’s salaries,” he said, adding that cutting financial aid to some foundations and associations kept 700 million lira ($102 million) in the municipality’s coffers.
İmamoğlu also said a roadmap to keep the Golden Horn clean was in progress.
“The cleansing of the base of the Haliç [Golden Horn] is ongoing. We are pumping 300,000 cubic meters of water from the Bosporus into the Haliç every day,” said the mayor.
The issue of pollution of the Golden Horn has been a topic of political debates for years.