Suspicion over Greek financial data

In a cloud of doubt created by the European Central Bank and the European Commission about Greece’s official economic figures, the Economy Ministry’s competent services will in the next few days send their full account for 2008. By March 31 the National Statistics Service (NSS) must submit the final data for the last financial year to Eurostat. Then in April the NSS will begin the revision of the country’s gross domestic product, which can contribute toward the reduction of the deficit for 2010, as from the second half of next year the revised data will be used for calculations. The NSS will cooperate closely with Eurostat to avoid errors of the past, when Greece had proposed a 25.7 percent increase in GDP and the Commission accepted only a 9.6 percent upward revision. This, however, is likely to make Brussels more wary and more insistent on the need for new fiscal measures. The soaring of the Greek cash deficit to 7 percent of GDP for 2008 has created considerable concern among European authorities regarding the ministry’s estimate of 3.7 percent of GDP for last year’s fiscal deficit. There is also concern about the surpluses of social security funds, local authorities, hospitals etc at a time when stock prices are falling, although they are supposed to contribute to the reduction of the fiscal deficit. But government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros insisted yesterday there was no problem with the data.

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