Speaking at the Economist conference “The big rethink for Europe – The big turning point for Greece” in Athens on Wednesday, the president of the Hellenic Bank Association and non-executive chairman of the Board of the National Bank of Greece Giorgos Zanias expressed his conviction that the Greek banking sector has by now stabilized and recovered its capital adequacy, being able to participate in the new growth efforts of the country.
According to his estimates, Greek banks today enjoy a liquidity of about 50 billion euros, “which allows them to restart lending to SMEs” and has made possible – along with the support of European funds – the co-financing of many more businesses and projects in the last 4-5 months.
Zanias said he considers bad loans to be one the major challenges facing Greek banks, expressing confidence in their ability to tackle the problem, with the help of the economy’s gradual return to growth. Inter alia, he suggested introducing a new legal framework to allow out-of-court settlements, to improve the bad loans situation.
Speaking at the same conference, Douglas Renwick from Fitch Ratings UK explained why, to his agency’s view, Greece’s credit rating still remains weak. Among the reasons Renwick mentioned was that “the public debt is extremely high, the private sector has moved into high debt… the percentage of bad loans is high, the indications of attracting Foreign Direct Investment [FDI] are weak and unemployment remains at a high level”.
The Health Minister Makis Voridis made a reference to the maladies that used to haunt the Greek health system, such as “wastefulness, absence of audits and controls and a lack of medicinal prescription instruction mechanisms”, moving on to describe the main health reforms currently under way.