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Court rejects lawsuit filed by TurkStat against independent research group

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An Ankara court has rejected a lawsuit filed by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) against an independent research group on the accusation that it announces higher inflation rates than those reported by TurkStat in order to damage the institution’s reputation, the Gerçek Gündem news website reported on Thursday.

The İstanbul-based Inflation Research Group (ENAG), which was established by a group of academics and is led by economy professor Veysel Ulusoy, has been calculating the inflation rate in Turkey since September 2020 and sharing its figures, which are higher than the inflation rates reported by TurkStat, with the public.

It has been claimed by politicians from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), including former Finance Minister Lütfi Elvan, that ENAG’s inflation rates were higher because the group was “playing with the numbers” with the aim of discrediting TurkStat.

The first hearing of the lawsuit was held at the Ankara 15th Civil Court of First Instance on Thursday and saw the participation of TurkStat’s lawyer Demet Filoğlu and professor Ulusoy.

According to Gerçek Gündem, the court rejected the case after Ulusoy argued that ENAG was working for the benefit of the country and that its data was scientifically proven.

“ENAG measures inflation on a daily basis, while TurkStat makes calculations based on market research it does three times a month. The difference may be due to this,” Ulusoy said.

A similar case previously filed by TurkStat against ENAG and Ulusoy was also rejected by a court.

TurkStat has been receiving growing criticism from opposition parties and government skeptics for not releasing accurate figures for important statistics such as inflation and unemployment, instead presenting statistics that fail to reflect the market realities. The institute is accused of manipulating the numbers in order to mask the scale of the country’s economic deterioration.

In 2019 opposition parties submitted parliamentary questions to then-Finance Minister Berat Albayrak over claims that TurkStat tweaked inflation data for political reasons, claims dismissed as groundless by the head of the institute.

Since April 2019 the head of TurkStat has been replaced four times by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, leading to claims that Erdoğan was not pleased with the TurkStat figures when they were higher than his expectations. The president also fired two vice chairmen at the institute, Umut Serhat İdman and Nurettin Kaya, in March.

Turkish inflation surged past 85 percent in October, its highest level since 1997, official data showed on Thursday, while the same figure was announced as 185.34 percent in a monthly study released by ENAG the same day.

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