BUSINESS

Greece likely to miss Eurostat deadline for reassessed figures

By Sotiris Nikas

The country’s statistics on the economy look set to be thrown into doubt once again, as it appears Greece will miss a deadline to submit a reassessment of economic data covering the period from 1995 to 2013, a Eurostat demand on all European Union member states.

This latest bout of doubt, if it occurs, would concern historical data, not the current economic figures.

All EU members face a September 22 deadline to deliver reassessed figures as part of a new accounting framework, ESA 2010, imposed by Eurostat, which will present the results on October 10.

The EU’s statistical service is awaiting revised GDP, deficit and debt figures based on new ESA 2010 criteria. Its processing of entries such as public utilities and defense spending is expected to produce different deficit and debt results for the years 1995 to 2005.

ELSTAT, Greece’s statistical authority, is believed to be on schedule for its reassessment of GDP results, but is said to be behind in its reworking of deficit and debt figures. ELSTAT chief Andreas Georgiou told the Finance Ministry to begin work on its part of the task in January, but the ministry has reportedly only just assembled its team.

Should the ministry not send all necessary historical data to ELSTAT within the next few days, there is no way it will be able to process the information and provide its final results to Eurostat on time. If so, the Greek statistical service would miss out on sending Eurostat any revised deficit and debt data prior to 2006. In this event, legal action could be taken against Greece.

The current deficit and debt figures are said to be beyond any doubt as ELSTAT has already conducted reassessment procedures from 2006 onward, as required.

However, failure to meet Eurostat’s deadline would spark unnecessary reaction and undermine Greece’s improved standing in terms of credibility.

The period prior to 2006 includes two crucial issues. New light would be shed on Greece’s preparation for Economic Monetary Union, between 1995 and 2005, requiring a GDP deficit of less than 3 percent, and could spark renewed debate about whether the country should have entered the eurozone or not.

Also, ongoing debate on New Democracy policies while the party was in power in 2004-09, and whether they led to the bailout, could provide fresh information.

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