ISTANBUL, April 3 — Price growth in inflation-plagued Turkey gathered pace in March, rising to 68.5 per cent year-on-year, the country’s statistics agency TUIK said Wednesday.

The increased reading followed a Sunday municipal election drubbing for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party that many blamed on the out-of-control cost of living.

Last month the cost of education, health, transport and food showed the biggest increases, after inflation reached 67.07 per cent in February, TUIK said.

But ENAG, a group of independent economists, said their own calculations put the year-on-year figure at almost 125 per cent.

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Pointing to slowing month-on-month inflation in the official data, at 3.16 per cent rather than February’s 4.53 per cent, Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek wrote that “monthly inflation decreased in line with our forecast”.

Following a return to orthodox central bank policy, with the headline interest rate having been raised to 50 per cent, the government has also vowed to control spending to brake activity and inflation.

“All these developments... will anchor inflation expectations and support the disinflation process,” Simsek said.

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“We will do whatever is necessary until we reach our goal of price stability, which is our top priority,” he added. — AFP