March 9, 2012 by

“If (former economy minister)Mr Papaconstatinou willingly inflated the deficit, he should be hanged at Syntagma” said Zoe Georganta, former ELSTAT (hellenic statistics bureau) official in testimony to the parliamentary committee investigating the 2009 deficit on Thursday, March 8th. Mrs Georganta claims that the 2009 deficit was revised employing the toughest methodology available, which led Greece straight to the arms of the IMF. «Ι cannot claim that Mr Papaconstantinou had indeed a plan. He would have been a criminal. If he consciously did that, we should hang him.” she said. “It was either inexperience, inability or maybe some of them profited.” Mr Papaconstantinou appointed Andreas Georgiou at the head of ELSTAT, a economist who, according to Mrs Georganta had very little experience with statistics but plenty of experience with Structural Adjustment Programms, as an IMF employee. Georganta claims that when Mr Georgiou revised the 2009 deficit upwards, the ELSTAT board was left in the dark, although its statute requires unanimous decisions. 

“The former ELSTAT official (Georganta) claimed that the deficit for 2009 should have been 12.5 percent of GDP and could have easily been brought to below 10 percent with immediate measures. Georganta said that when Georgiou took over at ELSTAT in the summer of 2010, he employed the toughest methodology available to calculate the deficit, which was revised from 13.6 percent to 15.4 percent. The ex-statistician was particularly opposed to the inclusion of debts run up by Greece’s public enterprises (DEKOs) being included in the 2009 figure.” writes eKathimerini

Mrs Georganta claims that Mr Georgiou included DEKOs, plus another 151 public entities in the 2009 figure, although this was not required by the regulations and although various european countries do not include these into General Govenment statistics.

According to Mrs Georganta, “if the deficit hadn't jumped from 13,6 to 15,4 percent, the 2010 cost-cutting measures, which helped the deficit shrink by 5 percentage points, would have led to a deficit of less than 10 percent. This would have altered the psychology of the markets and it is conceivable that Greece could have avoided the need for a bailout»

Early next week, parliament is set to decide on a possible cross-examination of both Mrs Georganta and Mr Georgiou.