Eurostat on flying visit next week

In light of the Greek government’s recent budget deficit revisions, a team from the European Union’s statistical service, Eurostat, will make a one-day visit to Athens on October 12 to hold talks with the National Statistics Service (NSS), the Greek organization confirmed yesterday. The 2000 to 2004 revisions put the Greek deficit over the qualifying ceiling for the eurozone, which is set at 3 percent of a country’s gross domestic product. The Eurostat task force intends to discuss the method of recording various figures with the heads of the NSS on Tuesday. The European statisticians have indicated that they intend to investigate Greek accounts from 1997 to 1999, but it is thought that the brevity of next week’s visit will prevent them from doing this. The general secretary of the NSS, Manolis Kontopirakis, said that Eurostat officials have not asked to be provided with any figures for that period during their visit. Kontopirakis claimed that Eurostat had confirmed to him, in writing, that 8.7 billion euros’ worth of military expenditure had not been included in Greek deficit figures from 1997 to 2003.