Nightmare of Greek figures

City A.M. Reporter
THE head of Europe’s statistics agency has had “sleepless nights” over Greek economic data and statistics for 2007 and 2008 debt and budget deficits are still not reliable, Eurostat’s director-general said yesterday.

Speaking on Greek television, Walter Radermacher said he could not validate Greek figures, adding parts of Greece’s public sector, such as hospitals, were still not clear. “My answer would be very simple: no,” Radermacher said, when asked if he had reliable statistical data on Greece now.

Greece stunned markets in October when it revealed that the budget deficit in 2009 would be 12.7 per cent of GDP -- over twice as big as a previous estimate, itself also revised up only a short while earlier. Greece’s fiscal troubles have led to one of the biggest crisis for the eurozone since the single currency was launched.

Last week the European Commission said Greece had for years deliberately misreported budget deficit data because the statistics system was open to political influence.

“For the years, at least 2007 and 2008, Eurostat for the time being is not in a position to validate Greek data on public debt and deficit. I take it seriously and I have some memory of sleepless nights,” Radermacher said.