Thought Crime: Publishing higher-than-official inflation numbers begets criminal complaint for a Turkish research group

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May 11, 2021 5:30 AM

As per Bloomberg, TurkStat has demanded that ENAGroup, an independent research group be fined for “purposefully defaming” the statistics body and “misguiding public opinion”.

There have been claims from the opposition parties in the country that the government body is under-reporting price increases.There have been claims from the opposition parties in the country that the government body is under-reporting price increases.

Beware any ‘thoughtcrime’—that seems to be the message from the decision of the Turkish Statistical Institute, under the Turkish finance ministry, to file a criminal complaint against inflation researchers who have challenged its inflation numbers for the country with a set of their own.

As per Bloomberg, TurkStat has demanded that ENAGroup, an independent research group be fined for “purposefully defaming” the statistics body and “misguiding public opinion”. There have been claims from the opposition parties in the country that the government body is under-reporting price increases. ENAGroup’s CPI inflation growth for April over March was 2.4 times that recorded by TurkStat; it pegged the annual inflation rate at 36.7% of 2020.

The country’s finance minister, Lufti Elvan, says the group aims to discredit TurkStat and “there is no such thing as Turkstat playing with numbers or inflation reaching 30-40%”. TurkStat says its complaint is over opaque methodology rather than results.

“They are obliged to express the scope of the research, sampling method and sample volume, data collection method and application time together with the results of the research,” it has said. But the ENAGroup insists that all that the TurkStat is asking for to be published is already on their website—in their news bulletins, is what TurkStat wants. It has urged the researchers to avoid presenting data “in a way that will undermine trust in official statistics”. Cue in “doublethink” for citizens, then.

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