Greece’s statistics service ELSTAT has suspended until further notice the release of flash quarterly estimates on the country’s gross domestic product because of divergences with provisional estimates, a statement issued by ELSTAT said on Monday.
The move means that flash data will not be issued on Aug. 14. Nationwide quarterly GDP data will be released on Sept. 1, taking into account more information than the early indicator of the flash estimate.
That quarterly figure, known as provisional data, can also be subject to revisions over time.
The quality of Greek statistical data is under constant scrutiny by Brussels since the country plunged into crisis in 2010, requiring to date three international bailouts to stave off bankruptcy.
Discrepancies in the way the budget deficit was calculated before 2010 – which angry euro zone partners say concealed the extent of the deficit – helped trigger the financial crisis that engulfed Greece and the euro zone.
A senior ELSTAT official told Reuters the suspension of the flash data was necessary because flash data was issued on the basis of incomplete information, which subsequently needed revisions when more data came in.
“We will probably not publish flash estimates for the next coming quarters after recent divergences,” the ELSTAT official said.
Reuters notes that there have been considerable differences in the past two quarters between flash data, issued 45 days after the lapse of the reference period, and provisional data that follows and is released within a 60 day period.
“On June 2, ELSTAT upwardly revised its first-quarter GDP estimate to an expansion of 0.4 percent quarter-on-quarter on a provisional basis; flash data released 15 days earlier had estimated the economy had contracted by 0.1 percent.
Similarly in March, ELSTAT said Greece’s economy shrank 1.2 percent in the last quarter of 2016, a considerable revision from a 0.4 percent crimp it gave a fortnight earlier.”
“We don’t have all the necessary data for the flash estimates on time. We just have data only for two months of the quarter on employment and not the final data for the current account balance,” the official said.
“We want to explore the availability of the necessary data sources and improve the consistency of the flash estimates.”
Ireland, Luxembourg and Sweden do not issue flash data. The release of flash estimates is not mandatory under European legislation.
Greece has informed Eurostat on the matter.
The ELSTAT decision triggered speculation among Greek media.
Conservative website Liberal.gr writes: “This decision refers either to the objective weakness of ELSTAT to properly assess the course of the economy on the basis of its measurement tools or to a direct intervention by the government which was exposed in recent past when it attempted to make suppositions about economic growth but the ELSTAT data said otherwise.”
If there is even a small chance that someone form the government intervened in order not to disturb the success story in the economy then this is “an unprecedented intervention and a major political issue,” the site notes.
Anyway, the ELSTAT decision coincides with the revival of the legal issues around the former ELSTAT head Andreas Georgiou.
Frankly, this suspension and the noise about it is much ado about nothing.