Gunaydin! Hosgeldiniz! It is truly a pleasure to join you today on behalf of the Country Director Johannes Zutt and represent the World Bank Group (including the International Finance Corporation) in jointly sponsoring the Municipal Finance and Creditworthiness Academy with the Turkish Union of Municipalities.
Before sharing some thoughts, I wanted to express deep appreciation to Hayrettin Bey, Secretary General for the Turkish Union of Municipalities, to Omer Bey, General Director of Local Administrations at the Ministry of Interior, and Taskin Bey, Deputy Undersecretary at Treasury, for allowing me to share the stage in opening this Academy. Together we share a mutual aspiration of promoting sound municipal finance and creditworthiness in Turkey. Their leadership and commitment to this agenda is a critical sign of importance of role of cities for Turkey’s future.
We are happy to see representatives of central authorities, IllerBank, local authorities, and development partners at the opening of Academy. I would like to thank the leadership and technical specialists from Turkey’s vibrant cities represented here today. By any measure, this is a remarkable turnout from 22 municipalities across Turkey, represented in many cases by deeply committed Secretary Generals and technical staff. Your commitment of time and effort to this Academy is deeply appreciated, knowing that you all have very busy schedules and many time constraints.
I also would like to take this opportunity to thank staff of Turkish Union of Municipalities (TBB) for their dedication and excellent work in organizing the event, and express appreciation to the sponsors of the event – Korean Green Growth Partnership and PPIAF.
The genesis for this Academy started some 8 months ago, as completion of the Turkey Urbanization Review was being finalized. The report, which some presenters today will refer to, highlighted significant accomplishments of Turkey in effectively managing rapid urbanization – remarkable enough to warrant our wanting to share that experience with other countries who can learn from Turkey.
But beyond the robust intergovernmental transfer system, the long-standing metropolitan municipality system, and accomplishments in housing and in municipal finance, we also noted opportunities for further growth and development of cities.
This we called Turkey’s “Second Urban Development Challenge or Agenda”. A prominent area of focus there will need to be enhancing municipal finance and creditworthiness for Turkish municipalities. In embracing this agenda, you are demonstrating that you recognize Turkey’s future is highly dependent on a system of well-functioning cities and that this can’t come about without concerted efforts and courage to take on new policy challenges at both the national and local level.