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Foreign debt reached 153% according to Eurostat

23 January 2013 / 22:01:13  GRReporter
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Greek foreign debt increased by 3.4% in the last quarter of 2012 as reported by Eurostat. From 149.2% of GDP in the third quarter of last year, the ratio of debt to gross production in the country rose to 152% at the end of the year. Its real value is 301.2 billion euro and in comparison with the same period of 2011, it is 11% lower due to the haircut of the nominal value of Greek government bonds held by private investors. Despite the series of reforms and the restructuring of the government debt, the Mediterranean country still has the highest debt in the whole of the European Union followed by Italy with 127.3% of GDP, Portugal - 120.3% of GDP and Ireland with 117% of GDP.

Meanwhile, the Greek Statistical Institute ELSTAT is again in the spotlight. The economic prosecutor George Peponis has ordered a criminal investigation against Andreas Georgiou, who was the head of the Greek statistical service. He is accused of counterfeiting the macroeconomic data for 2009, which is a felony according to the laws of the country.

The investigation is based on the testimony of former employee of the statistical institute Zoe Georganda. According to her, Andreas Georgiou distorted the data on the level of the deficit in 2009 in order for the country to obtain the financial aid from Europe and the International Monetary Fund sooner.

The former senior employee in the Greek statistical institute suggests that Prime Minister George Papandreou and Finance Minister at the time George Papakonstantinou had imposed political pressure on the head of the institute in order to inflate the macroeconomic indicators. After revising the data, the budget deficit proved to be 15.4% instead of 12.8% as had been believed at the end of 2009. Zoe Georganda insists that the budget deficit did not exceed 13% and the value of 15.4% was fabricated to allow the government to catalyze the processes of putting Greece under the control of the International Monetary Fund.

The European Commission responded immediately to the situation. "The statistical data for 2009 are reliable and meet both the Greek and European standards applicable to all Member States of the European Union", said at a briefing in Brussels Emer Traynor, a spokesperson for the EU Commissioner for taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud Algirdas Semeta. She stressed that after a series of checks and inspections in March 2010, Eurostat had established the specific data on the development of the local economy and that the Greek statistical data reported then for the past year were correct. "We see this as reflecting the very significant progress in Greece in relation to the data reported, but also as a result of the cooperation between the Greek authorities and Eurostat," emphasized Traynor.

The investigation in the country will have to take into consideration the views of the European Commission concerning the accuracy of the statistical data for 2009 but it is not known if it will be enough to dispel the suspicions about Andreas Georgiou. A year ago, Peponis requested the formation of a special parliamentary commission as regards the same issue, which did not yield any result.

Tags: EconomyMarketsStatisticsCrisisInvestigation
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