NEWS

Banks to get piece of EU fund action

In an effort to speed up the funding of small and medium-sized enterprises, the government is considering giving commercial banks the administration of 5.8 billion euros in funds earmarked for these companies in the Third Community Support Framework. The banks will be appointed by the State after a competition, in a measure aimed at a lightening of the load of public administration, while, at the same time, giving the banking sector a huge boost. Banks will gain by receiving huge amounts of money to administer and through being able to broaden their customer base indirectly as well as expanding their range of services. The banks’ handling of the funds will also avoid the danger of their being used to buy favor with voters. According to sources, the Economy and Finance Ministry and the Hellenic Banks’ Association are working out the conditions, criteria and responsibilities of the banks that will undertake the role of support agents for the companies at all levels, from the submission of applications for subsidies to the execution of the project, its supervision and confirmation of how the money was spent. The sources said that the ministry will issue invitations to all banks, as long as they have branches in all of the country’s provinces. In each branch, the banks will have to set aside special areas to be used to provide services related to the programs, with pamphlets, questionnaires, applications, and so on. Banks will have to inform interested parties, help them to fill in their applications, check that all the necessary documents are in order and evaluate requests on the basis of specific criteria. Once the banks have approved the applications, they will be submitted to the regional government’s decision-making committee for approval. Banks will also be able to provide loans to the companies that have applied for assistance. The banks will be paid by the State (probably in the form of a commission). But among their obligations will be the payment of compensation if the recipient of a subsidy, without being responsible himself, was provided with funds without fulfilling the necessary conditions.