Development minister defends new foreclosure rules

Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis on Thursday defended draft legislation on distressed mortgages against criticism from the opposition which said that the government is essentially lifting the current moratorium on foreclosures.

“It is understood that this is a fair, balanced regulation which is being introduced without the clear agreement of the troika but, I would like to believe, with [the troika’s] understanding,” the conservative minister told Mega TV on Thursday.

The Development Ministry said Wednesday it aims to extend through 2014 a freeze on repossession but only for primary properties valued at up to 200,000 euros ($275,000) and households with an annual net income of under 35,000 euros.

But blanket protection on main household properties – a measure essentially in effect since the start of the financial crisis four years ago – will end on January 1, the ministry said.

Leftist SYRIZA opposition described the new measures as a “loophole” that would eventually undo protection of vulnerable homeowners.

“There is clearly an intention to fully lift protection of primary properties after the one-year transition period,” the party said.

Democratic Left and the Communist Party also criticized the new regulations which are to be voted by Parliament on Saturday.

The Bank of Greece earlier this week said the general amount of non-performing loans had risen to 29.3 in June, from 24.5 percent a year earlier.

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