Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sacked the head of the national statistical institute after reports of tensions between them over the country’s inflation data.
A decree published in the country’s official gazette early Saturday morning announced Sait Erdal Dincer’s ouster after official inflation hit a 19-year high of 36 percent in December. He had only served in the role for 10 months.
He was replaced by Erhan Cetinkaya, who was previously deputy chairman of the country’s banking regulator.
Erdogan, a lifelong opponent of high interest rates, rejects the economic orthodoxy that raising interest rates helps curb inflation and argues that low interest rates will lead to price stability.
He ordered the central bank to cut interest rates four times in the last few months of last year, and the Turkish lira plummeted in value.
Dincer’s ouster 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 accuse it of manipulating the data to artificially understate inflation.
Dincer denied that claim earlier this month. “With the inflation data, I have a responsibility to 84 million people,” he told the Turkish business daily Dunya. “If I sign a mistake, I’m wronging 84 million people. As you know, millions of workers are getting a raise based on the inflation we announced. Manipulating the income of these people, depriving them of their rights. . . I would not do that.”
The agency will release the inflation rate for January on February 3rd.
Nureddin Nebati, the country’s finance minister, reportedly said at a meeting of economists in Istanbul last weekend that he expected inflation to peak at 40 percent in the coming months.
Goldman Sachs, the US investment bank, forecasts that annual consumer price inflation will hit 48 percent in January.
According to the state gazette, Erdogan also accepted the resignation of his Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul. He replaced him with Bekir Bozdag, who had previously completed two stints in that role.