Gov’t defensive about trimmed GDP revision

The government yesterday came under fire in Parliament over the European Commission’s announcement that Greece’s proposed upward revision of its gross domestic product (GDP) by 25.7 percent for the 2006-2006 period had been trimmed down to 9.6 percent. Speaking at the joint session of the committees of Economic and European Affairs, main opposition PASOK’s parliamentary spokesman Theodoros Pangalos said the government had phenomenally miscalculated. «Although the Commission always ups the proposed revisions, it drastically lowered your estimate. It is unprecedented for a country to expose itself in such a way for reasons of domestic policy,» he said. Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis replied that «the government is not in any position to influence the National Statistics Service (NSS).» He refused to comment on Eurostat’s announcement, saying «it is not a politician’s job to comment,» adding that responsibility lay heavily on the previous PASOK government. «The revision was delayed for 10 years. In such a case, it is expected that inconsistencies will arise. I have given instructions to NSS to be more careful and to be in close touch with Eurostat. We shall use this official data in the 2008 draft budget,» he said. Former PASOK minister Vasso Papandreou reminded Alogoskoufis that he had congratulated NSS on the work done in September, before Eurostat rejected the extent of the Greek revision. «At the time, both Eurostat and (Economic and Monetary Affairs) Commissioner Almunia had informed you in writing of the problems, pointing out that Greece’s quality report did not contain sufficient data for the Commission to make its assessment. We have been ridiculed abroad,» she said. Separately, NNS secretary-general Manolis Kontopyrakis told a radio interview that Eurostat had found NSS’s methodology impeccable but had disagreed with the magnitude of the price re-evaluation of certain key items, such as housing.