Turkish economic researchers may face up to three years in prison if they publish unofficial data on indicators without first seeking approval of the country’s statistics agency, according to a draft law seen by Bloomberg.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) had planned to submit the proposed legislation to parliament this week but has held off while officials do further work on it, two party officials said on condition of anonymity.
Turkey’s economy is being tested by an earlier slump in the value of the lira that unleashed a surge in inflation. Fast-rising prices are a worry for Erdoğan’s administration just over a year before elections.
The Turkish Statistical Institute had earlier filed a criminal complaint against ENAGroup, an independent inflation researcher, accusing it of “purposefully defaming” the institution and “misguiding public opinion.”
ENAGroup reported an annual inflation rate of 142.63 percent in March, more than double the official figure of 61.14 percent for the same month.
The draft law seen by Bloomberg would bar researchers from publishing any data on any platform without seeking approval from the statistics agency, which would have two months to assess methodology. Those found guilty of violating the law may face between one and three years in prison.
“Some of the manipulative statistics presented to the public under the name of scientific study without a clear methodology target both the Turkish Statistical Institute and the confidence in economic indicators,” according to the draft.