The Slovenia Times

Statistics Office director resigns

Tomaž Smrekar resigns as director-general of the Statistics Office. Photo: Aleš Osvald/STA

Tomaž Smrekar resigned as director general of Slovenia's Statistics Office on 10 October in the wake of criticism after the office made a substantial downward correction of last year's GDP growth.

The office confirmed Smrekar's resignation but declined to provide the reason for his decision or comment on it.

Smrekar stepped down two weeks after the government asked for an explanation after the office surprisingly revised GDP growth figures for 2022 from 5.4% to just 2.5% on 31 August.

The government at the time said it had decided to "inform [Smerkar] of alleged violations and possible grounds for dismissal" and urged him to respond.

The GDP revision came as a surprise not only to the government but also to many experts, prompting speculation about flawed quarterly GDP calculations.

However, the office denied any wrongdoing at the time, explaining that the wide gap was the result of missing aggregate data when quarterly figures had been prepared.

Last month, Smrekar explained that GDP is calculated under a prescribed procedure which is based on a common EU framework.

He said that 2022 was an exceptional year due to high inflation and the energy shock after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, meaning it was very difficult to give good estimates for various economic indicators for such unusual years.

Smrekar strongly denied allegations that the office's calculations might have been swayed by the government or someone else as suggested by some media.

His statement did little to reduce the discontent, especially since a significantly lower growth estimate affects the country's fiscal planning.

Finance Minister Klemen Boštjančič also said the government would have "some explaining to do to the investors and investment banks we work with on how this difference in estimates came about".

Smrekar has been heading the Statistics Office since May 2020 when the Janez Janša government dismissed his predecessor Bojan Nastav amid much criticism.


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