Controversy as Spain statistics institute chief resigns
The head of Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE) has resigned in a move the opposition and part of the press blames on differences with the country’s left-wing government over poor economic growth and inflation figures.
he head of Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE) has resigned in a move the opposition and part of the press blames on differences with the country’s left-wing government over poor economic growth and inflation figures.
In a statement released late on Monday, the economy ministry said INE president Juan Rodriguez Poo had “expressed his desire to step down for personal reasons”.
Poo’s departure from the institute, an independent body which is affiliated with the ministry, came after he oversaw a “process of modernisation and strengthening” at the INE, which he has helmed since October 2018, it said.
But El Pais and several other newspapers said Poo had resigned in a bid to avoid being pushed out by the government over a disagreement about the INE’s methodology for calculating indicators such as gross domestic product and inflation.
Last Friday, the INE revised down Spain’s first-quarter growth figures to 0.2 percent, from 0.3 percent, confirming the pace of economic expansion had slowed sharply in the context of high global inflation and market tension as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
And in recent months, the INE has also released statistics showing rising inflation in Spain, which in March hit a peak of 9.8 percent, the highest level in 37 years.
Some analysts have expressed doubt about the INE’s estimates, signalling certain discrepancies between the weak growth figures and the strong data on job creation.
Spanish opposition leader Alberto Nunez Feijoo, who heads the right-wing Popular Party (PP), also criticised Poo’s departure, blaming political considerations.
“Dismissing the head of the INE because the government does not agree with Spain’s official statistics on economic growth and inflation is without doubt an error which affects (the country’s) credibility, trustworthiness and reputation,” he said.
“No head of the statistics institute has ever been dismissed, except during a change of government,” he charged.
he PP has in recent days criticised Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez for his attempts “to control state resources as much as he can” after his party lost to the right in the June 19 regional elections in Andalusia, formerly a bastion of the Socialists.