Tag Archives: ELSTAT

Come back to reality

“I won’t commit suicide. I’m not crazy. I’m going to eliminate one of you” said a desperate middle-aged man to Greek Health Minister, Adonis Georgiades during the latter’s visit to the Thessaloniki International Fair.

The Minister is giving him an advise. “Calm down. Come back to reality. Problems do not get solved in one day”. And Rome wasn’t built in one but that’s irrelevant. The man had used his life savings to buy Greek bonds which have recently been severely cut because of the Greek “haircut”. Thousands like him are desperate, having trusted their life savings to a betraying State that is now calming them down and calls them back to reality. Blend despair with injustice and you have anger.

Some other thousands have been less angry, they have only been desperate. Extremely desperate. Fresh reports quantitatively show a dramatic rise in suicides. The Greek Statistical Authority announced that suicides have gone up in 2011 – 26,5% compared to 2010 and 43% compared to 2007, the year before the Greek crisis broke out. At the same time, NGO Klimaka, that deals with suicides and runs a 24-hour hotline, added that the actual number of suicides is much higher than this.

According to an EU-wide study researching data for the period 1970-2007, every 1% of rise in unemployment results in a 0,79% rise in suicides. The projection is geometric. If unemployment rises by 3%, suicides rise as a result by 4,45%.

Unemployment in Greece was below 10% before the crisis. It is now about to reach 30% without any visible prospect of recovery on the ground. Now do the math.

Did the trial of Papandreou begin?

It seems that the investigation on the alteration of Greek Statistics (in 2010) has bumped into some sort of political involvement. The case began last September after the complaint of Zoe Georganta, a professor of Econometry at the University of Macedonia (Thessaloniki) & a member of ELSTAT (the Greek Statistical Authority), who said that the 2009 deficit was artificially augmented. She underlined that in November 2010 ELSTAT accepted pressures from Eurostat and produced a higher number for the country’s 2009 deficit, at 15,4% instead of 12-13% which was the real number. The goal was to make it politically more feasible to pass further economic reforms (cuts in salaries & pensions as well as taxes).

Financial prosecutor Grigoris Peponis

Financial prosecutor Grigoris Peponis has collected testimonies from 17 people who were involved in the case. His conclusion was included in the letter accompanying the case file on its way to Greece’s Supreme Court (Areios Pagos, the descendant of ancient Areopagus). In this letter Peponis says that there is evidence concerning criminal offences (under the Law on Ministerial Responsibility) by members of the the Greek government. He also wrote that in the testimonies there is explicit reference to an augmentation and an arbitrary determination of the 2009 public debt. The blame for this, according to the testimonies submitted to Mr. Peponis, is targeting the then Prime Minister, members of his government and the respective Finance Ministers.

After the Supreme Court, the case file will be transferred to the Greek Parliament which will decide on possible political responsibilities. In other words, this could be the beginning of a Special Investigative Committee and, if responsibilities are found, a Special Court for George Papandreou and his administration.

The names of those who testified were also made publicly available. Mr. Peponis had also invited current ELSTAT chairman, Andreas Georgiou, to testify but the latter did not provide a sworn testimony. In addition, George Papaconstantinou, Finance Minister during the examined period, rejected any claims against himself. In a public statement, he concluded that “there is an attempt to penalize the truth about the grave situation Greece was in 2009“. Mr Papaconstantinou is now Greece’s Minister for the Environment.