ATHENS – The government next month will unveil a plan to deal with 77 billion euros of bad loans at banks and offer debtors restructuring plans, Development Minister Nikolaos Dendias said.
Besieged by harsh austerity measures, many Greeks have been unable to pay their loans, mortgages or credit cards but are being hounded by banks – who also got 50 billion euros from the state in recapitalization funds.
The problem is so bad that the outstanding amount is more than 40 percent of Greece’s Gross Domestic Product and a key issue with international lenders.
The issue is a “top priority” for the ministry and the government, Dendias told reporters in Athens. He said the draft law will move forward if it receives no objection from the so-called Troika of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, (EU-IMF-ECB).
Strategic defaulters shouldn’t assume they’ll be allowed to avoid paying back their loans, Dendias said. “People who intentionally default on their debts should not expect to be pardoned by this law,” he said.
He didn’t say if that would include the ruling parties of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ New Democracy Conservatives and its partner the PASOK Socialists, who owe banks 250 million euros in bad loans, aren’t paying and aren’t being chased to do so.
Samaras had earlier promised to present a plan for heavily-indebted households to seek debt relief but reneged on it, although he’s going to ask for the same treatment from the Troika, to restructure Greece’s 240 billion euros it owes the lenders for bailouts.
That could include walking away from a big chunk of what it owes, something the government doesn’t want Greek consumers to do to Greek banks.
Dendias said that the government’s proposals for handling bad loans won’t affect the capital position of Greek lenders and wouldn’t affect Eurozone stress tests on banks being done through the ECB.
In the first quarter of this year, loans more than 90 days overdue were 37.9 percent of total loans extended by Piraeus Bank; 33.3 percent at Alpha Bank;, 23 percent at the National Bank of Greece, and 30.9 percent at Eurobank, according to the respective filings of the biggest Greek lenders.