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Opposition media accuses TurkStat of ‘miscalculating’ inflation figures

Opposition media accuses TurkStat of 'miscalculating' inflation figures Women protest high prices in Istanbul, Türkiye (Reuters File Photo)
By Newsroom
Jul 9, 2024 11:37 AM

The Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) released the consumer and producer price indices for June, indicating the slowest monthly inflation in a year. However, TurkStat inflation figures for June have ignited a firestorm of criticism in Türkiye’s opposition media.

TurkStat figures

The annual inflation rate decreased for the first time in eight months, with consumer prices rising by 71.6% and domestic producer prices by 50.09%.

  • 12-month average increase: Consumer prices increased by 65.07%, while domestic producer prices rose by 47.97%.
  • Lowest annual increase: Clothing and footwear saw a 47.84% rise.
  • Highest annual increase: Education expenses rose by 107.11%.
  • Monthly changes: Clothing and footwear decreased by 0.58%, while housing increased by 3.79%.

Opposition media reactions

Türkiye’s opposition media criticized TurkStat for inflation figures, accusing the institution of publishing unrealistic data.

Opposition media accuses TurkStat of 'miscalculating' inflation figures

Karar’s critique

  • Headline attack: Turkish newspaper Karar’s front-page story, titled “Fear God, TurkStat”, accused TurkStat of publishing unrealistic data to influence policy and blamed the institution for exacerbating the economic crisis.
  • Discrepancies highlighted: The article criticized TurkStat for publishing implausibly low-cost figures, such as:
    • Moving costs at ₺10,000
    • Beef per kilogram at ₺433
    • Olive oil at ₺133
    • Rents at ₺8,000
    • Cheese at ₺147
    • Doctor’s consultation at ₺34
    • Average rent at ₺5,844
    • Doner sandwich at ₺77
    • Egg at ₺2.5
    • Gasoline car price at ₺1.1 million
    • Taxi fare at ₺75
    • Private primary school fee at ₺103,000
  • Public outrage: Social media users mocked TurkStat with comments like “let’s shop where TurkStat shops,” highlighting the discrepancies between reported prices and reality. Critics pointed out that decent white cheese costs over ₺250-300, beef over ₺650, and even painkillers cost more than ₺34.
Opposition media accuses TurkStat of 'miscalculating' inflation figures

Sozcu’s response

  • Headline criticism: Turkish newspaper Sozcu ran the headline “Those wanting cheap consultations, rent, or food should go to TurkStat”, accusing the institution of downplaying inflation and manipulating data to the detriment of the public.
  • Manipulation through TurkStat: Economist Dr. Oguz Demir stated that the lack of transparency in TurkStat’s approach has led to widespread distrust. He noted that since March 2024, the correlation between TurkStat’s inflation figures and those of the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce (ITO) has weakened, with TurkStat’s monthly inflation data dropping more sharply. He criticized the government for trying to manipulate inflation figures through TurkStat, stressing the need for accurate data.
  • Statistics dispute: Sozcu pointed out the wide gap between TurkStat’s reported prices and actual market prices, emphasizing that TurkStat’s use of low prices skews inflation data. Journalist Erdogan Suzer highlighted that TurkStat’s doctor consultation cost of ₺34 is far below the market rate of ₺4,000.
  • Public perception: The newspaper argued that”Prices look low when you look from the 33-story TurkStat building in Ankara,” criticizing TurkStat’s data does not reflect the real-life experiences of citizens, questioning how the institution could claim such low prices amid rising living costs.
Opposition media accuses TurkStat of 'miscalculating' inflation figures
TurkStat headquarters in Ankara, Türkiye, Dec. 3, 2021. (AA File Photo)

TurkStat’s response

TurkStat President Erhan Cetinkaya responded to the criticisms, explaining the methodology behind the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

  • International standards: Cetinkaya noted that no country publishes all item-level prices and defended TurkStat against claims of hiding data. He highlighted that perceived inflation often differs from official figures, a trend observed worldwide.

For instance, over the past 20 years, perceived inflation in the EU has been on average five times higher than the official rate, while in Türkiye, this gap is about two times. This is not unique to Türkiye

TurkStat President Erhan Cetinkaya
  • Data collection: Cetinkaya collects over 600,000 prices monthly, with about 300,000 from market cash register data. These figures are averages, and publishing the item basket prices would require additional work.

The inflation calculation involves averaging the prices of various items or services. For example, can the price of a tomato in Van be the same as a cherry tomato in Istanbul’s Etiler district? We use the weighted averages of these prices

TurkStat President Erhan Cetinkaya
  • Methodological differences: Cetinkaya addressed discrepancies between TurkStat’s and ITO’s inflation data, attributing them to methodological differences and the broader scope of TurkStat’s data collection. He also criticized ITO’s methodology, which they adopted from TurkStat 30 years ago, as outdated. He said ITO uses a much smaller model compared to the CPI, with a narrower scope
Last Updated:  Jul 9, 2024 2:54 PM