Slow start as two Turkish cash-raising sales of state assets earn less than hoped

ANKARA – Turkey’s efforts to raise much-needed cash and cut costs looked like they were getting off to a slow start on Wednesday after two sales of state assets produced less than had been hoped. In the capital Ankara, officials charged with selling off part of a huge fleet of official vehicles said the civil servants who used them were reluctant to hand over their cars and buyers less keen than expected to bid for them. The decision has to be implemented more radically. Otherwise it will not be possible to reach the savings target, an official at the Finance Ministry’s clearing house TASIS told Reuters. Turkey has promised the IMF that in exchange for new loans it would slash its bloated bureaucracy and cut costs to free up money so it can be used to handle a heavy domestic debt burden swollen by a costly bailout of failing banks. Original plans had foreseen around 24,000 official vehicles used at Turkey’s scores of ministries, directorates and undersecretariats being handed over to TASIS for sale. But the official said that the goal had been reduced to 3,333 after the majority of the vehicles were reclassified as essential to either security or health. So far only 2,100 vehicles have been handed over, and of the 1,600 offered for sale only 1,100 had been bought, he said. Turkey is in the midst of its deepest recession since 1945, and domestic demand has slumped as the lira crashed against the dollar and thousands of workplaces closed. In the financial capital Istanbul, an auction of real estate formerly owned by some of the failed banks now in state receivership told a similar story of low demand. The auction on Tuesday evening of some 426 items of real estate had sold only 188, with many other bids coming in below reserve prices, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported. We have agreed with Telenor to decide the issue by mid-December. We will announce decisions after that meeting, Manassis said. OTE, which already has a 59 percent stake in CosmOTE, confirmed in May it was discussing the possibility of raising its stake by buying Telenor’s 18 percent holding, but its board said it needed further evaluation of the price.

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