TurkStat’s inflation figures reflect ‘dishonesty’ by Erdoğan and his ‘yes-men,’ economist says

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Steve Hanke, a professor of applied economics at Johns Hopkins University, has said that recent inflation figures released by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) were yet another example of dishonesty by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his “entourage of yes-men.”

Hanke on Friday tweeted that he had accurately measured Turkey’s annual inflation at 108.75 percent, while TurkStat reported the country’s official inflation rate at 48.69 percent in January.

“TurkStat’s number is just more daily dishonesty from Pres Erdogan & his entourage of “yes-men”. Total fiction,” Hanke tweeted.

The professor also said in another tweet posted later on that at least 56 labor strikes had taken place in Turkey in the last month, as soaring inflation had destroyed workers’ purchasing power.

Arguing that Turkey’s inflation rate is at least double the official figure, Hanke added, “Turks can thank RTE [Erdoğan] for the inflation tax.”

Earlier this week the International Statistical Institute (ISI) and the International Association for Official Statistics (IAOS) released a joint written statement in which they expressed “deep concerns” over former TurkStat president Sait Erdal Dinçer’s dismissal in a decree published on Jan. 29 after the institution released data showing last year’s inflation rate hit a 19-year high of 36.1 percent.

“There are repeated worries regarding the transparency of the appointment and dismissal procedures within TUIK [TurkStat], including in the post of its president, undermining significantly the institution’s credibility,” they said.

Emphasizing that they had to state a clear position against what they “considered being political interference in the production of official statistics,” the ISI and IAOS representatives added that they expected Turkish authorities to assure that TurkStat is able to provide objective statistics that fully meet international standards.

Dinçer was just the latest in a series of economic dismissals by Erdoğan, who has replaced the head of TurkStat four times since April 2019, leading to claims that he was not pleased with the TurkStat figures when they were higher than his expectations.

TurkStat has been receiving growing criticism from opposition parties and government skeptics, as well as international organizations, for not releasing accurate figures for important statistics such as inflation and unemployment, instead presenting statistics that fail to reflect the market realities. The institute is accused of manipulating the numbers in order to mask the scale of the country’s economic deterioration.

Over the past several years, Turkey has been suffering from backsliding in its economy, with high inflation and unemployment as well as a poor human rights record. Erdoğan is criticized for mishandling the economy, emptying the state’s coffers and establishing one-man rule in a country where dissent is suppressed and opponents are jailed on politically motivated charges.

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