Turkey’s statistics chief defends inflation calculations / REUTERS

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The head of Turkey’s statistics institute has sought to calm criticism of its inflation data, telling reporters on Tuesday its figures are calculated in the same way as in other countries and concerns are « unjust ».

Reuters, July 10, 2024

Credibility concerns were raised earlier this year when Turkey’s Statistical Institute (TUIK) said it did not have historical data on product prices beyond May 2022 and stopped sharing it.

Separate concerns were raised last week when it released data showing annual inflation fell more than expected to below 72% in June from 75% a month earlier.

Addressing the historical data concerns, the institute’s head, Erhan Cetinkaya, said inflation was calculated on the basis of more than 600,000 prices and previously published product prices had « no indicative value ».

« The product basket remains where it is, the tables that are not being published are product prices… In order to announce product prices, another day of work is needed, » Cetinkaya was quoted by broadcaster NTV and state-owned Anadolu Agency as saying.

No country publishes this data as part of their inflation figures, he added.

Hakan Kara, a former chief central bank economist who is now at Bilkent University, was among those criticising TUIK’s move to stop publishing the data, saying it was required to calculate the consumer price index in any case.

« Is TUIK destroying product prices every month after calculating the consumer price index? » he said in June.

Though TUIK has faced questions over inflation calculations since 2018, several economists have said – despite the lack of the historical data – that accuracy has improved since June 2023 when a new cabinet began an economic policy U-turn.

Cetinkaya said Turkey’s data on official inflation and perceived inflation was « the closest to each other » compared to global peers and that perceived inflation was twice the official figure for Turks. TUIK uses global calculation methods, he said.

The central bank has hiked its policy rate to 50% from 8.5% in June of 2023 to cool prices. The June inflation data signalled the start of what is expected to be a sustained slide.

Addressing concerns over the June data, Cetinkaya said that certain price hikes would be reflected in July figures.

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