Turkish Statistical Institute chief replaced by career official

Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜIK) acting chief Muhammed Cahit Şirin has been replaced by a career official of the organisation after less than one year in the job.

Şirin, married to the private secretary of Emine Erdoğan, the wife of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was appointed in May last year.

Ahmet Kürşad Dosdoğru, Şirin’s deputy, will replace him, the institute said on its website on Monday. Dosdoğru is the organisation’s third chief in less than three years.

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

Dosdoğru has worked at TÜIK since 2004, when he graduated from the school of economics and management at the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara. He has served as deputy head of the organisation since 2017.

Turkey pledged to ensure the independence of economic institutions such as the central bank and financial and market watchdogs under an International Monetary Fund loan programme at the start of the 2000s. 

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

Şirin had replaced Yinal Yağan as acting head of TÜIK. Yağan, appointed in 2018, had previously worked for Erdoğan's son-in-law, then-Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak.

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