Erdoğan hires academic as fourth chief of statistics body in three years

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hired an academic to head the country’s statistics institute (TÜİK) in the fourth such appointment in less than three years.

Sait Erdal Dinçer, a professor at the economics faculty of Istanbul’s Marmara University, will replace Ahmet Kürşad Dosdoğru as head of the body that is responsible for collating and reporting on economic data such as inflation, according to a presidential decree published in the Official Gazette on Tuesday.  

Erdoğan had appointed Dosdoğru, an official at TÜİK since 2004, to replace Muhammed Cahit Şirin as acting chief of TÜİK a little over two weeks ago. Şirin, married to the private secretary of Erdoğan’s wife Emine, had served for less than a year.

TÜİK, the central bank and other top economic organisations have suffered a hit to their reputations as independent institutions after a swathe of dismissals, reshuffles and appointments, many of them by presidential decree. Erdoğan replaced 10 of TÜİK’s regional chiefs via a decree in June last year, prompting his political opponents to raise concerns about the institution’s credibility.

Concerns about TÜİK's autonomy intensified after it reported an annual inflation rate between July and October last year that was virtually unchanged. Inflation had varied between 11.75 percent and 11.89 percent even as the lira hit successive record lows against the dollar.

Dinçer, who gained a doctorate in econometrics, has areas of expertise including multi-criteria decision-making, optimisation techniques and risk management, according to Marmara University’s website.

Şirin, appointed as acting head of TÜİK in May last year, had replaced Yinal Yağan. Hired in October 2018, Yağan previously worked for Erdoğan's son-in-law, then-Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, when Albayrak was energy minister.

Albayrak resigned from the government in early November after Erdoğan sacked and replaced the head of the central bank. Albayrak's replacement, Lütfi Elvan, has pledged economic reforms and a battle against inflation to help bolster investor confidence in the country. Details of the reforms have yet to be announced.

TÜİK is due to publish February inflation data on Wednesday. Consumer price inflation accelerated to 15 percent in January from 14.6 percent in December.