ECONOMY

NBG officials optimistic about banks in Greece

Greek banks remain strong and will manage to restore good cash flow conditions during the first six months of 2011, National Bank of Greece’s chief executive officer, Apostolos Tamvakakis, told yesterday’s general meeting of shareholders. Tamvakakis maintained that credit institutions will avoid resorting to the Financial Stability Fund created to strengthen the banks’ capital adequacy, provided the country’s lenders steer clear of certain shortcomings of the past. «Banks must not remain idle and indecisive. They must make the major decisions dictated by the times, using logic and rationality. There must be a certain degree of introspection to identify and remedy their problems,» said Tamvakakis. «There is only one direction for Greek banks and that is forward.» He went on to suggest that the priorities for the National Bank of Greece group are the strengthening of its cash flow and capital adequacy, the reduction of operating costs for domestic activities, the sound management of nonperforming loans, with the target of restructuring debts totaling over 1 billion euros, while maintaining the momentum for the expansion of banking activity in neighboring economies. Credit expansion in Southeastern Europe and Turkey in particular is estimated at 20 percent in the near term and this will be self-funded through the strengthening of deposits in those markets. Vassilis Rapanos, NBG group chairman, stressed that Greece can achieve the targets of the Stability and Growth Program, but its fiscal adjustment can only be accomplished through structural changes and a radical shift in the way the state operates.