ECONOMY

Eurostat arrives for lengthy visit

Eurostat officials have arrived in Greece with the aim of clarifying the situation regarding the country’s statistics and to record the real data for the 2006-09 period. The next 10 days are expected to be crucial, as European Union statistics experts will be registering the real amounts of the budget deficit and the national debt, ahead of the biennial fiscal report on October 22. To illustrate the significance Eurostat attributes to this process, its head, Walter Radermacher will also come to Athens for a few days, while some of its officials will remain stationed in this country. The latest reports suggest that the 2009 deficit will be revised to 15.1 percent of gross domestic product, while the debt for the same year will amount to 127 percent of GDP. These figures may well swell even more before the checks by Eurostat, the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) and the General Accounting Office are completed. The reason for this increase is the incorporation in the official fiscal figures of the deficits and accumulated debts of public companies and corporations such as hospitals, as well as the inclusion of swap agreements such as that with Goldman Sachs (amounting to 5 billion euros) from 2005 that the Finance Ministry failed to report in 2008. Speaking on Skai Television last night, Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou suggested that no other such swap agreement should be anticipated. Meanwhile, the data for the first three quarters for the 2010 budget issued yesterday continued the picture of stagnating revenues: Cash inflow to state coffers grew by no more than 3.7 percent this year to September 30, compared with a target of 8.7 percent. In order for the state to meet its budget targets, it will have to receive some 5.3 billion euros per month until the end of the year.