ECONOMY

Budget figures could go either way

The lack of validation of past Greek budget deficit data by the European Union’s statistics office does not necessarily mean that any further revision would take the deficit higher, the European Commission said yesterday. The executive branch of the EU was responding to questions at a regular news briefing regarding its report on statistics for Greece, in which it said there may be further revisions to the country’s budget deficit and debt figures for 2008 because the current institutional setup for Greek statistics was ineffective and prone to political interference. «The fact that Eurostat has not validated those figures does not necessarily imply that the final figures will be higher,» Commission spokeswoman Amelia Torres said. «It simply means that Eurostat at this stage is not capable of validating the figures.» Greece has revised its 2008 budget deficit figures to 7.7 percent of gross domestic product from 5 percent. Meanwhile, International Monetary Fund experts began meetings with Greek officials yesterday to advise Athens on how to fix its fiscal problems. The Greek government had asked the IMF for expert advice on fiscal matters. The IMF team first met with Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou yesterday to provide expertise on budgeting, tax policy and ways to better monitor government spending, the Finance Ministry said. (Reuters, Kathimerini)