Debate on the deficit goes on

Greece was slammed again by European officials yesterday over its inaccurate deficit figures while the government and main opposition continued to bicker about who was to blame for the revision. «The procedures must not be vulnerable to political and electoral cycles. Countries should consider the quality and integrity of their statistics as a priority matter,» said Jean-Claude Trichet, European Central Bank president. Trichet has been critical of Greece since revised 2000 to 2004 deficit figures revealed it was above the limit set by the EU’s Stability Pact. Greece is one of 12 EU members currently over the limit. European Monetary Affairs Commissioner, Joaquin Almunia said that suspending EU cohesion funds to Greece if its 2005 budget was not satisfactory was a «possible sanction.» Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis told Parliament that the previous government had concealed 1.7 billion euros’ worth of military purchases in 2003, corresponding to 1.1 percent of GDP. PASOK spokesman Nikos Christodoulakis accused the government of conducting an inaccurate and secret audit.