Thursday, June 25, 2015

The International Statistical Institute (ISI). Statement on Official Statistics in Greece. June 2015

June 12, 2015

The International Statistical Institute (ISI) welcomes the Statement of 21 May by the European Statistical System. With regard to the situation in Greece, the statement draws attention to the reinforced provisions on professional independence in Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 whereby the recruitment of the new President of Greece’s Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) must follow a transparent procedure and be based on professional criteria only.

Transparency and professionalism are two fundamental values that underpin our ISI Declaration on Professional Ethics, which guide statistical activities across the world.

The ISI also welcomes the proposal from the Greek Appeals prosecutor Antonis Liogas that judicial authorities drop the investigation into claims that the current head of ELSTAT, Andreas Georgiou, inflated the country’s public deficit figure for 2009. Prosecutor Liogas noted that the probe so far has not revealed any evidence suggesting that Georgiou and two other ELSTAT officials accused of wrongdoing massaged the figures. This is the second time that there has been a recommendation for the case to be dropped. The final decision will be taken by a council of appeals court judges.

The ISI has previously made three statements concerning the statistical issues in Greece, expressing concern over plans to prosecute the current head of ELSTAT Mr. Andreas Georgiou. In the second statement, dated February 2013, the ISI stated that ‘the charges against Mr. Georgiou and two of his Managers of exaggerating the estimates of Greek government deficit and debt for the year 2009 are fanciful and not consistent with the facts’.

The principle that ‘official statistics should be prepared using objective methods and following international standards’ is critical to their acceptability by users. Since 2010, Greek Statistics have passed all European quality checks.

The ISI expresses the hope that justice will prevail in this case and that the threat of prosecution will finally be lifted from Mr Georgiou and his Managers.

Vijay Nair
President, ISI

Stephen Penneck
Chair, ISI Advisory Board on Ethics