Deficits revised upward

Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics agency, yesterday announced that it had revised upward Greece’s budget deficit for the years 2002-2005. The revision came after Eurostat examined a number of budget items, including the annual surpluses of state hospitals and local authorities, which had apparently been overstated. Eurostat said that Greece’s budget deficit was equal to 5.2 percent of its GDP in 2002, 6.1 percent in 2003, 7.8 percent in 2004 and 5.2 percent in 2005, up from 4.9 percent, 5.8 percent, 6.9 percent and 4.5 percent, respectively. Eurostat also said that it was considering whether to accept the one-off deficit-cutting measures, worth 1.1 billion euros and equal to 0.6 percent of GDP, included in the 2006 budget. These measures concern the securitization of future earnings from road tolls and the transfer of bad debts. Eurostat voiced skepticism about Greece’s recent upward revision of its GDP by 25 percent, saying that revision on such a large scale required a «complete verification» of economic data. The Greek government will soon implement a jointly agreed plan with Eurostat to improve the quality of its statistics.