There is no secret about the fact that Italy may well be in line for an excess deficit process under the terms of the eurozone bility and growth pact. What is less well known is the difficulties under which the EU's statistical office has to labour, just to get accurate numbers.Eurostat has just published it's latest report on deficit number revisions that it has extracted from the Italian government. But there is still a lot of haggling in the pipeline, as can be seen from the extract reproduced below. The language is very formal, but between the lines it isn't hard to see the frustration with the kind of data they've been getting.
"It is recalled that Eurostat was not in a position to validate the figures for Italy in the context of the March 2005 EDP notification. Apart from the three issues mentioned above, this was mainly due to the recording of transactions with the EU budget, to inconsistencies between data on cash and accrual bases and to statistical discrepancies in government accounts. It is expected that Eurostat will shortly receive from the Italian authorities the information requested on these issues and will then be able to clarify these issues in co-operation with ISTAT. Depending on the outcome of the examination, this could lead to a further upward revision in the government deficit for the period between 2001 and 2004."
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