Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has plans to help restore respect for Turkey’s statistics office after criticism emerged over the accuracy of its data, said Kemal Öztürk, a senior adviser to Erdoğan during his time as prime minister.
The Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) has come under scrutiny from the political opposition and some economists for its reporting of inflation data and other figures. After November inflation figures were reported early last month, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), arrived at TÜİK’s gates unannounced to unsuccessfully demand a meeting with its president.
On Monday, TÜİK reported that consumer price inflation in Turkey accelerated to 36.1 percent in December from 21.3 percent in November. The figure exceeded all economists’ expectations, according to a Bloomberg poll. Still, some analysts and commentators pointed to alternative data and an opinion poll that suggested inflation was far higher.
In a column for the Habertürk news website on Tuesday, Öztürk said criticism among the opposition about the December inflation figure was subdued, but some officials of the Treasury and Finance Ministry were upset. Several people close to the government are now saying that TÜİK reported a high figure because of pressure from the opposition, he said.
Concern over political interference in the workings of TÜİK has intensified since Erdoğan used vast new presidential powers to replace dozens of its most senior officials, including the institution’s chief, since 2018.
Öztürk said that Sait Erdal Dinçer, who Erdoğan hired as head of TÜİK in March last year, was ready to resist any interference or pressure on the institution and would resign if necessary. At the time of his appointment, Dinçer was the fourth head or acting head of TÜİK to arrive in less than three years.