Parties clash over stats inquiry

As officials from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund began inspections in Athens to determine whether authorities are pushing through austerity measures, the two main political parties blamed each other for Greece’s economic crisis. The exchange of accusations in Parliament came just a few hours after the government tabled a motion in the House for the formation of an investigative committee to determine how inaccuracies crept into Greece’s economic statistics. Ruling PASOK is proposing that the probe cover the period between 2004 and 2009 when the previous conservative government was in power. «A report by independent experts clearly indicates that the political responsibility for the poor management of statistics lies with the previous administration,» PASOK parliamentary spokesman Christos Papoutsis said. Opposition New Democracy rebuffed the ruling party’s proposal, saying that it had a «political agenda.» ND spokesman Panos Panayiotopoulos spoke of «a deliberate attempt to cover up the truth.» ND said it did not oppose the creation of an investigative committee in principle but stressed that such a probe should go back to 1981 when PASOK first came to power, rather than centering exclusively on ND’s last stint in government. According to sources, there are rifts within the ranks of the conservative party as some prominent cadres, including former Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, object to an investigation focusing on the economy. Sources close to PASOK revealed that several ruling-party MPs too had initially objected to the idea of the proposed investigation before being convinced. Meanwhile, sources said Prime Minister George Papandreou and Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou have agreed on additional austerity measures that are due to be announced next week. The measures are set to include a hike on value-added tax and a higher tax on luxury goods.

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