Political row over deficits

Opposition New Democracy clashed bitterly with Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis in Parliament yesterday over Greece’s budget figures, during a debate prompted by the EU statistics department’s revision last month of Greece’s accounts over the past three years. Former ND Chairman Miltiades Evert accused the government of having concealed a cumulative budget deficit of 10.27 billion euros (3.5 trillion drachmas) through creative accounting. «Who signed for these funds to be hidden away?» Evert demanded. «You, Mr Christodoulakis? The prime minister? I expect you to provide me with names.» Christodoulakis declined to do so, claiming that no deficits had been hidden and attributing the budgetary revision by Eurostat to «stricter regulations on the classification of expenditure.» Honorary ND Chairman Constantine Mitsotakis said he believed the government had engaged in political haggling with Eurostat, and, as a result, the hidden deficit was much higher than initially understood.