Turkish Researchers Face Fines for Publishing Own Inflation Data
(Bloomberg) -- Turkey’s statistics agency filed a criminal complaint against a group of local researchers publishing alternative inflation data.
The government body demanded ENAGroup, an independent inflation research group, be fined for “purposefully defaming” the official statistics institution and “misguiding public opinion,” according to documents seen by Bloomberg. The group started publishing its own inflation data in September amid claims from opposition parties that the official agency is underreporting price increases.
ENAGroup’s inflation figures are significantly higher than the official data. Its consumer price index rose 2.62% in April from a month earlier, more than double the 1.1% reported by the official agency. The group reported an annual inflation rate of 36.7% for 2020.
Turkey’s Treasury and Finance Minister Lutfi Elvan said late Thursday that the statistics agency filed a complaint against a group “for the first time in the history of the Turkish Republic.” The group aims to “damage and discredit the Turkish Statistical Institute” by spreading misleading data that are used by opposition parties, Elvan said. “There’s no such thing as Turkstat playing with numbers or inflation reaching 30%-40%,” the minister said.
The complaint was filed in February and an Istanbul prosecutor summoned the researchers for testimony last month, said Veysel Ulusoy, a professor of economics at an Istanbul-based university and head of the ENAGroup. It is currently unclear if the prosecutors’ investigation will result in a court case against the group, Ulusoy told Bloomberg by phone on Saturday. He said the group publishes its database and methodology on its website, refusing the state agency’s accusations.
“We believe Turkstat’s reputation shouldn’t be damaged with such a rudimentary investigation,” Ulusoy said. “We are not trying to be Turkstat’s substitute, we are simply trying to complement their data.”
Turkstat officials didn’t respond to calls and emails outside office hours.
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