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Turkish leader names new statistics chief as inflation rises

ISTANBUL (AP) – Turkey’s president has fired the head of the Turkish Statistical Institute, which is responsible for posting official inflation statistics, among other data, at a time when prices have skyrocketed in Turkey.

Tukish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision was announced on Saturday on the Official Gazette. He replaced Sait Erdal Dincer less than a year after his appointment with Erhan Cetinkaya, who served as vice president of Turkey’s banking regulation agency. No reason was given for the move.

Turkey has experienced economic turmoil with an unstable national currency, triggered by massive interest rate cuts. Erdogan stands strongly against high interest rates, claiming they cause inflation, a stance that contradicts established economic theory. Since September, the Central Bank has cut rates by 500 basis points to 14 per cent, but stopped its cuts in January.

Turkey relies heavily on imports for its energy needs and consumer goods. Inflation on consumer prices for December was officially announced at 36.08 per cent, up from 21.31 per cent in November.

But opposition parties have questioned the Turkish Statistical Institute’s independence and its data is being challenged. Independent experts at Inflation Research Group, or ENAG, say Turkey’s actual annual inflation for December 2021 was 82.81 per cent.

On Saturday, Erdogan acknowledged the effects of high inflation, blaming it on “artificial fluctuations” of the Turkish lira in December. He said Turkey had taken precautions and stabilised the currency.

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