“Resolving the non-performing loans issue is perhaps the last hurdle we have to face before our exit from the memorandum; it is a sin from the past that we carry with us,” Stergios Pitsiorlas, deputy Economy and Development Minister, said on Thursday.
In comments made to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency’s “Praktoreio 104.9 FM” radio station, Pitsiorlas said that “most people should not be afraid of this process because both the country and its citizens will gain from it.” Some sections of the population really had lost a big part of their income and were thus unable to meet their obligations, he said, stressing that the government was trying to protect these. There were also several others, however, that were not in this category, he pointed out. “Those we must not protect,” Pitsiorlas said, adding that NPLs “did not occur by accident”.
“Banks were running after consumers to offer loans, there were phenomena of intensely intertwined interests, where political interventions were used to offer very big loans with fundamentally no collateral,” he said. Pitsiorlas said that banks themselves will have to contribute to resolving this problem, “since it’s largely their creation”.
He noted that the government negotiated and adopted measures to ensure that there was no threat to ordinary citizens, for first homes and low-value properties and to resolve the problem from a certain level and above.
Commenting on a bond swap programme, he said “it is an exceptional step towards our final return to capital markets. It shows that markets have confidence in Greece and paves the way for our next test forays into markets – perhaps one or two – by the summer of 2018”.