Turkey appears set to impose prison terms of up to three years for economic researchers who publish unofficial data on inflation and other indicators without first obtaining government approval. country’s statistics agency. Bloomberg reported on April 14 that he had seen a bill to that effect.
A thorn in the side of the Erdogan administration is the Istanbul-based Inflation Research Group (ENAG), run by academics. His work suggests that the official inflation chart presented by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK or TurkStat) does not correspond to reality. The latest inflation data from TUIK, covering the month of March, shows official annual inflation of 61%. ENAG’s calculations indicate 143%.
Opinion polls have consistently shown that few Turks believe official inflation data. For several months now, bne IntelliNews presented the ENAG inflation figure next to the official figure.
The bill also includes blackouts for websites that publish unapproved statistics. ENAG publishes its data on its website as well as on its Twitter account.
In May last year, TUIK filed a criminal complaint against ENAG, which it said was “deliberately defaming” the national statistical institution and “misleading public opinion”.
The inflation narrative has become particularly sensitive in Turkey this year as the country shifted into election mode. Presidential and parliamentary polls, which will be held in parallel, must legally take place no later than June 2023. A big issue for voters will be whether President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is guilty of economic mismanagement. Erdogan often claims that external factors are responsible for Turkey’s difficulties, but the country has essentially been mired in an economic crisis for several years.
Bloomberg said Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had planned to submit the draft law on the release of unofficial statistics to parliament this week, but was waiting for officials to press ahead. work. He quoted two anonymous AKP officials who relayed the situation.
The bill seen by the news agency would prohibit researchers from publishing data on any platform without seeking TUIK’s approval. The state body would have two months to assess the methodology behind the data. Those found guilty of breaking the law face between one and three years in prison.
“Some of the manipulative statistics presented to the public as scientific studies without clear methodology target both the Turkish Statistical Institute and confidence in economic indicators,” the project said.
After he was served with court papers in January, the director of ENAG, the economist Veysel Ulusoy, Told Al-Monitor: “The public was so interested in this kind of[inflationdata[ratherthanTurkstat’sfalsesignals”[inflation[dataratherthanTurkstat’sfalsesignals”[donnéessurl’inflation[plutôtqueparlesfauxsignauxdeTurkstat”[inflation[dataratherthanTurkstat’sfalsesignals”
He added, “We knew something was wrong and the inflation basket was misleading the public. Public support was the main thing that took ENAG to the next step.”