Turkey must explain how it arrives at annual inflation data to refute assertions that the figures are now being manipulated, columnist Alaattin Aktaş said in the Dünya newspaper on Monday.
In the past, Aktaş said he had avoided joining those who assert that the inflation data is inaccurate, as calculating the numbers is not an easy job and everyone’s perception of inflation is different because of the goods and services they consume. But he said that he was now revising that view.
“By looking at the data at hand, I am going beyond expressing suspicion that the CPI data doesn’t reflect the truth and am openly saying the following: the November CPI calculation is completely far from the truth.
“If you notice, this is the first time that I use such precise statements about TÜİK’s inflation calculation.
“It is up to TÜİK to explain this situation. Staying silent will reinforce assertions that it is playing with numbers,” Aktaş said.
Turkey’s consumer price inflation rate rose to 21.3 percent in November from 19.9 percent the previous month, TÜİK said on Friday. Price increases in Turkey gathered pace after the lira slumped by about 30 percent against the dollar during the month, forcing up the price of imported goods and materials.
Aktaş backed up his assertion by comparing price increases for automobiles for November with the official data. Unlike food price inflation, which is made up of hundreds of items, changes in the price of cars are far easier to calculate, he said.
Price increases have totalled between 30 percent and 50 percent during the month, and the price of some models has risen at a faster pace, Aktaş said. But TÜİK has calculated that the price rises totalled between 6 percent and 12 percent, he said.
Assuming that the average increase in car prices was 35 percent, the impact on annual inflation should have been at least 2.52 percentage points, but according to TÜİK the figure stood at 0.63 percent, he said.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has replaced dozens of officials at TÜİK via presidential decree since he gained vast new executive powers at elections in 2018, including the head of the organisation and the heads of regional offices.
On Friday, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main opposition Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP), arrived at the gates of TÜİK’s offices in Ankara to demand a meeting with officials. He was turned away.
“Other products can also be looked at,” Aktaş said. “There were incredible price movements in November, especially due to the exchange rate increase.
“When goods and services that constitute CPI are listed, there are a series of price movements that contradict this exchange rate movement and what is observed in the market. But I don’t want to confuse the issue,” he said. “Our topic today is automobile prices, and other items can be talked about later.”