Ex-statistics chief rejects claims of inflated deficit

The man who headed Greece?s statistics service before being succeeded by Andreas Georgiou, who has been accused of fiddling the country?s 2009 public deficit to help justify the eurozone and International Monetary Fund bailout, told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday that he was not aware of any attempt to influence the agency.

Ilias Plaskovitis, currently general secretary at the Finance Ministry, told MPs who are investigating how the 2009 deficit figure was formed that he did not notice anything untoward at the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) when he was in charge between November 2009 and August 2010. But he did add that ELSTAT?s techniques were not up to scratch.

Plaskovitis told deputies that he would not have taken the same action as Georgiou, who wrote to the head of the IMF team in Greece, Poul Thomsen, to ask him to urge the government to change the way ELSTAT operated. The parliamentary committee has decided to call 14 witnesses, including former Economy Minister Louka Katseli, to give evidence.

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