Why did the chairman of the Turkstat get the boot?

The President of the Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK), Prof. Dr. Sait Erdal Dinçer was dismissed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He had served just 10 months in the role.

With the decision published in the Official Gazette, Erhan Çetinkaya, Deputy Chairman of the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK), was appointed to replace Dinçer.


The removal of Dincer comes after weeks of speculation in the Turkish media about friction between him and Erdogan over the rising official inflation rate.


At the same time, TurkStat has come under heavy pressure from opposition parties, who have accused it of manipulating the data to show inflation at an artificially low rate.


Dincer rejected that claim earlier this month. “With the inflation data, I have a responsibility to 84 million people,” he told the Turkish business newspaper Dunya. “If I sign off on an error, I will do an injustice to 84 million people. As you know, millions of workers get a pay rise on the basis of the inflation that we announce. To tamper with those people’s incomes, to deprive them of their rights … I would not do that.”


One reason for Dincer getting the boot may be the way he handled a surprise visit by main opposition leader (CHP) Kemal Kilicdaroglu. The leader of opposition party CHP, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, stormed TurkStat’s headquarters last month to demand a meeting with the chief as he accused the state agency of hiding true inflation. He was barred from entering the building. “The statistics office has become an institution of the palace,” Kilicdaroglu said, referring to the presidential building in Ankara.


The chained main gate of Turkstat circulated widely in social media and used by the opposition  as a symbol of impunity.


Another reason may be Turkstat’s inexplicable animosity towards ENAG, a group of economists who invented and  patented an alternative CPI measure. “ENAGroup, an independent inflation research organization argued that real inflation figures exceed the official data by a big margin. TurkStat filed a lawsuit against the researchers, claiming that the disclosure of the data was intended to damage the reliability of the institution”, wrote Bloomberg.


The most plausible theory though is that Dr Dincer having a moderate modicum of decency and refusing instructions by the Presidential Palace to lowball January inflation data, expected to print at 9-10% MoM according to different surveys.  The CPI data will be published on 3 February.


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Published By: Atilla Yeşilada

GlobalSource Partners’ Turkey Country Analyst Atilla Yesilada is the country’s leading political analyst and commentator. He is known throughout the finance and political science world for his thorough and outspoken coverage of Turkey’s political and financial developments. In addition to his extensive writing schedule, he is often called upon to provide his political expertise on major radio and television channels. Based in Istanbul, Atilla is co-founder of the information platform Istanbul Analytics and is one of GlobalSource’s local partners in Turkey. In addition to his consulting work and speaking engagements throughout the US, Europe and the Middle East, he writes regular columns for Turkey’s leading financial websites VATAN and www.paraanaliz.com and has contributed to the financial daily Referans and the liberal daily Radikal.