ECONOMY

Samaras asks banks to do their bit

The banking system will need to make a substantial contribution toward strengthening liquidity and helping the ailing economy rebound, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras told the heads of the country’s four systemic banks and the chief of the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF) on Monday.

Following the successful conclusion of the recapitalization process of the credit sector, Samaras received the bankers at his office, where he asked them to examine conditions for the reduction of interest rates of loans, aimed at reducing the burden on borrowers.

Besides the PM, participating in the meeting were Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, Alpha Bank President Yiannis Costopoulos, National Bank President Giorgos Zannias, Piraeus Group head Michalis Sallas and the new chief executive officer of Eurobank, Christos Megalou, along with the managing director of the HFSF, Anastasia Sakellariou.

Talks centered on the recapitalization, cash flow and the short-term future of the banking system.

The government has until the end of the month to present its strategy for the credit sector after the recapitalization, and to seek an agreement with the HFSF, the Bank of Greece and the country’s creditors.

The four bankers reportedly told Samaras that the restructuring of the banking system will have to take place through steady and carefully planned steps.

“Now that the recapitalization of the Greek banks has been successfully completed and we have a banking system with four pillars, we wanted to hear the opinions of the bankers on the Greek economy. We have exchanged views on the economy and on liquidity,” Stournaras said after the end of the meeting at the Maximos Mansion.

The talks with the bankers was part of the PM’s busy schedule on Monday and forced the postponement of a scheduled meeting between Samaras and the head of the Hellenic Shipowners’ Association, Theodoros Veniamis, until Thursday on the voluntary taxation of shipowners, an initiative introduced by shipowners themselves.