Ex-chief of ELSTAT sees no foul play

The ex-director of what is now the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT), Manolis Kontopirakis, on Tuesday told a parliamentary inquiry probing claims that authorities artificially inflated the 2009 public deficit figure to justify a foreign bailout that he did not believe there had been any foul play.

The statistician said that, on the basis of information from the General Accounting Office, the deficit figure for 2009 was 14.8 percent of gross domestic product in October of that year, close to the figure of 15.4 percent sent to the European Commission?s statistics service, Eurostat, later that month. But forecasts by the Finance Ministry earlier in 2009 had put the deficit at a third of this figure. Kontopirakis said he had had nothing to do with the deficit forecasts sent to Eurostat in October 2009, adding that this was not his job. ?No statistics service in the world makes forecasts of deficits,? he said.

He added that he had not calculated the final deficit figure for 2009, noting that this was done in March of 2010, several months after he had left the service.

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