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Dubious statistics about the state of Greece are the center of attention in Brussels

12 January 2010 / 16:01:52  GRReporter
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Reliability of the statistical data regarding the level of state deficit and external debt of Greece are still in question after the European Commission reported on the economic situation of the country. The report is addressed to the Ministers of the European Union and essentially says that, despite the constant efforts of EUROSTAT since 2004, marked are systemic gaps and weaknesses in the system of collection and reporting reliable financial information in Greece. 

According to European observers Greek statistics have a long history of dubious authenticity. A number of irregularities were detected from 1997 to 2004. In 2004 EUROSTAT expressed deep reservations on five points from the economic data. The report of the commission stresses that EUROSTAT has no role as a controlling body, and that the final data depends on the good faith, competent collection and reporting of data from the administrations of the Member States. 

The main problems that European professionals note are connected with the lack of transparency and political interference in collecting and processing information about the economic situation of Greece. This increases the mistrust and effectiveness of the National Statistical Office and its independence. For these reasons, EUROSTAT is unable to confirm the size of the Greek state deficit and external debt. 

Meanwhile the new EU commissioner for financial affairs, Olli Rehn expressed his confidence that the Greek government is aware of the seriousness of the economic situation of the country. By the end of January, the Commissioner is expecting the presentation of the stability and development program. This program must include a detailed plan of how the government will tackle with the country's state deficit, which based on official figures is reaching almost 13% of GDP in 2009. When asked about the likelihood of Greece to be discarded from the Eurozone countries group, provided that it cannot deal with its state deficit, Rehn said: "There is no such possibility, and I do not think this is a solution. The Commission is following Greece’s case with concern and we believe that the government can control the present situation." 

Meanwhile, representatives from the International Monetary Fund arrived in Athens and their main objective is to provide expert assistance in making changes in the social insurance system, tax reform and the preparation of detailed economic programs of the government for the following three years. The inspection by the IMF representatives is routine and it was done by the request of the PASOK government. In less than a month this is the second visit of the IMF experts in the country.

Tags: Olli Rehn EU EC Economy in Greece
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