ATHENS – A debt restructuring plan being set up for Greeks buried under austerity measures won’t give a lifeline to businessmen trying to duck what they owe, Development Minister Nikos Dendias said.
“Crooked businessmen should not expect a general amnesty. The fact there are poor businesses owned by rich businessmen is just not on,” he said, taking a shot at unprincipled businessmen hoping to be allowed to have a strategic default.
Struggling with 77 billion euros in bad loans, most from people hit with big pay cuts, tax hikes, and slashed pensions that created record unemployment and deep poverty, Greece wants to let banks recoup as much as they can and not let people walk away from their debts.
The government next month will unveil its proposal although there was no reference as to whether it would be related to a long-scrapped plan Prime Minister Antonis Samaras withdrew to help heavily-indebted households, who are not in the same category as businesses.
The President of the Union of Hellenic Chambers, Constantinos Michalos, said, “In no case can we grant an amnesty to some who create problems in the market. It would be unfair competition by those whose businesses did not function rationally.”
The government plan will includes write-offs for surcharges and fines for overdue taxes and social insurance contributions, a long-term facility for up to 120 repayment installments, settlement of unpaid wages in 12 months and tax incentives to banks.
There was no indication what the government would do about people who legitimately can’t pay, thousands of whom have flocked to the consumer protection agency Ekpoizo for lawyers to protect themselves. In January, the government lifted a ban on mortgage foreclosures and is trying to help the banks.
An initial draft has been sent to the Bank of Greece and commercial banks for consultation. The Development Ministry aims to have finalized the plan by the time the Thessaloniki International Fair opens in early September so that Samaras can tout it in his keynote speech.