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Eurostat has disputed the Greek primary budget surplus for 2013

09 February 2014 / 17:02:34  GRReporter
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The German Sueddeutsche Zeitung published an interview with head of Eurostat Walter Rademacher, entitled "Good calculations from Athens" and subtitled "The Director-General of Eurostat has refuted statements of the Greek government that the country again achieved a surplus for the first time in 2013. Reliable figures will be available in late March. Therefore this is a mere speculation. "Rademacher believes that statements about the success of the Greek government for positive figures for the 2013 budget are hypothetical.

"There are still no persistent data on the deficit and the amount of debt in 2013," said Rademacher, explaining that data are still being collected and this will continue until the end of March. Until then, all the announced numbers are speculative.

"In this way the head of Eurostat has indirectly refuted Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras," said the newspaper, adding that "the conservative head of the government has declared in Parliament that Greece achieved a primary budget surplus of more than one billion euro for the first time in years in 2013."

Radermacher also added that the balance sheet can be prepared only when all the elements for all four quarters are available and the fourth quarter is particularly important, since taxes and other seasonal payments are paid at the end of the year. This annual balance sheet is not yet possible to be prepared, the newspaper said. "We still do not have the data for the fourth quarter of 2013," added Rademacher.

He explained that Eurostat operated independently from political hopes. "We do not calculate the numbers like Greek Prime Minister Samaras would like, but according to the applicable laws and standards. We register political desires. That's all," he said. At the end of March, Eurostat will calculate the official new debt. "Then, we will publish the numbers which can serve as a basis. These are data which are sustainable," added Rademacher.

The reasons for early statements are political

"The fact that Samaras has already announced numbers is due to the difficult political situation," said the reporter, stating that " the coalition of socialists and conservatives is really important for their survival, so that they could demonstrate success on their way to the exist of the dramatic crisis". He also explained that" the so-called primary surplus in the budget, which does not include any costs for debt repayment or the billions of euro for the recapitalization of banks, makes Eurozone countries and the IMF be ready to continue helping the indebted country even after mid-2014."

Representatives of the Troika,

According to the newspaper, a third package of aid is being considered which could provide new loans and / or facilities to repay the debt. "Without news of success, there will be no financial relief," the article says. In addition, the political opposition could finally secure its lead and impose new elections, reads the newspaper analysis.

Relation to the elections

"Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Left, wants early elections. His coalition is ahead of the coalition government and could win the European elections. Samaras rejects new elections," the newspaper noted.

The fact that the situation is very difficult is also confirmed by the Troika, the article continues and adds that experts who are checking whether reforms are being implemented and whether budgetary targets are being achieved again left Athens in the autumn of 2013 without comments. The latest report of the Troika was based on numbers from June 2013.

Antonis Samaras,

Threats of new fake data

The numbers which Greece declared to the Statistical Office were collected by local authorities. According to the European terms, each country can submit data on its own responsibility, Rademacher said, adding that Eurostat verified the procedure as well as larger amounts and transactions.

If fraud is detected, there is a threat of severe penalties against both the state and specific individuals. "We are a trustful and polite institution. Since 2010, we have had a considerable potential for control and verification," emphasized Rademacher.

He added that Athens is calculating things differently. "We calculate and publish the deficit on the basis of the Maastricht criteria. Athens is talking about a primary surplus," he said. "The Maastricht Treaty provides for the description of all financial data as well as of the capitalization of banks. On the contrary, the budget indicates whether the state imposes a disciplined financial policy and whether it spends less on interest than it collects. Mr Samaras must prove this discipline. The numbers which are needed for this, however, are included among those which are expected by Rademacher's collaborators, the article concluded.

The Ministry of Finance: the Troika puts its stamp on Greek parameters

According to the state television, the first reaction to statements of the head of Eurostat came immediately after the publication of his opinion. A senior representative of the Ministry of Finance noted that Greece calculates its financial parameters in the same manner as provided by the EU methodology. He also emphasised that the Troika itself stamps the parameters which Greece announces, and, as a consequence, a different way of calculation cannot be questioned.

Tags: Walter Rademacher Eurostat the primary budget surplus threesome Antonis Samaras
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