No blanket amnesty for bad loans

Unprincipled businessmen who remain rich while their businesses have foundered should not expect any benefits from a government plan to tackle the “mountain” of nonperforming business loans, Development Minister Nikos Dendias said on Wednesday.

“Crooked businessmen should not expect a general amnesty. The fact there are poor businesses owned by rich businessmen is just not on,” he said.

The president of the Union of Hellenic Chambers, Constantinos Michalos, concurred, saying: “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 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.

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 Prime Minister Antonis Samaras can refer to it in his keynote speech.