ECONOMY

Samaras urges Greek banks to ease liquidity problems, help boost economy after consolidation

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras called on Greece’s banks to help ease the shortage of liquidity and boost the Greek economy as he met with the heads of the country’s four systemic lenders on Monday.

Sources said that Samaras stressed the issue of liquidity and asked the four bank chiefs to examine ways of reducing interest rates to lighten the load on customers with loans.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras also took part in the meeting with Michalis Sallas of Piraeus Bank, Yiannis Kostopoulos of Alpha Bank, Giorgos Zanias of National Bank and Christos Megalou of Eurobank. Stournaras confirmed to reporters after the meeting that liquidity had been one of the main topics of discussion.

“Now that the recapitalization of the Greek banks has been completed successfully and we have a banking system with four pillars, we want to hear bankers’ views on the Greek economy and have the opportunity to exchange opinions,” said Stournaras.

The meeting came after the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF), the rescue vehicle set up to recapitalise Greece’s major lenders, picked Eurobank to buy New Hellenic Postbank and Proton Bank as part of consolidation in the sector and to meet a condition for the next tranche of Greece’s bailout.

Exiting the meeting, Sallas of Piraeus Bank said he was certain his lender would pass the stress tests due to be carried out by the end of the year and would not need a new injection of capital.

The government is expected to set out at the end of the month its plans for further strengthening of Greece’s banking sector.