Turkey's inflation climbed to its highest level since 1998, hitting an annual 73.5% in May, official data showed Friday, an issue dogging President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ahead of elections next year.

Critics have blamed the country's economic woes on Erdogan's unorthodox economic policy of pushing for lower interest rates to combat price rises.

The central bank refused again last week to raise its main rate, keeping it at 14%.

Soaring food and energy prices pushed inflation even higher last month.

Transport prices jumped by 107.6% in May while food was up 91.6%.

Rumours of a military intervention in northern Syria further hit the value of the Turkish lira, which was at 16.49 to the dollar on Friday. The currency has lost nearly 48% in value over the past year.

With elections looming in June 2023, the opposition and many economists have accused the national statistics agency of deliberately underestimating the magnitude of inflation.

The Inflation Research Group, made up of independent Turkish economists, said Friday that inflation actually accelerated by a whopping 160.8%, more than twice the official figure.

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