ATHENS Nov 9 European Central Bank President
Jean-Claude Trichet criticised Greece for producing unreliable
statistics, saying they undermined the functioning of the euro
zone's growth and stability pact.
Speaking on Greek television, he also called for Athens to
set up a fully independent statistics agency and said the
country needed a very significant fiscal readjustment after
recent warnings from the EU on a budget gap ballooning into
double figures as a percentage of GDP.
The new Greek government said last week that the highly
indebted country's deficit would reach 12.7 percent of GDP in
2009, more than double what the previous cabinet had projected,
prompting an outcry in EU capitals and among rating agencies.
"We absolutely need to be sure about the figures in the
future," Jean-Claude Trichet told Antenna television.
"We cannot have data which is not reliable, this calls into
question the functioning, the good functioning, of the stability
and growth pact, of the peer monitoring among Eurogroup
members," he said in the interview recorded in French on
Thursday and aired on Monday evening.
"There is a problem of credibility," he said.
Trichet said the Socialist government, which won an Oct.4
election, needed to guarantee the independence of the country's
"We need -- and I believe the new Greek government is
willing to do so -- the statistics office to be totally
independent, so that the figures can be reliable."
Greece's new government pledged in its 2010 draft budget
last week to save the country from bankruptcy, while announcing
that the public debt would explode to 120.8 percent of GDP next
year, making it the euro zone's most indebted country
It blamed this year's fiscal derailment on over-optimistic
tax revenue projections by the previous government and on
spending excesses in the pre-election period. [ID:nLU308979]
Greece has a long history of budget revisions. The latest
revision of the deficit figure was one of the main reasons for
Fitch to cut the country's rating to A- last month and for
Moody's to put its A1 rating on review for possible downgrade.
Asked about what Greece should do to stem its ballooning
budget deficit, Trichet said:
"It is clear it needs a very serious rectification
programme. Things cannot continue like that," he said.
(Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Patrick Graham)