The high level of bad loans in Greece is still the largest economic issue that the embattled nation needs to focus on, the head of Piraeus Bank told the American television network CNBC on Monday.
Christos Megalou said that there has been a “significant improvement” in this area, but he “would like to see even more in reducing the amount of NPLs (non-performing loans) in the banks’ balance sheets.”
“The four systemic banks have agreed among themselves to reduce the non-performing loans between now and 2021 by 50 billion euros ($56 billion). Fifty billion is almost 28 percent of the GDP (gross domestic product) of this country.
“It is a significant percentage vis-a-vis the actual percentage being produced by this country. I would like to see this happening and I would be very happy if we are able to achieve these targets (that) we have set ourselves out to achieve,” Megalou said in Athens.
Piraeus Bank aims to reduce nonperforming loans by 15 billion euros before 2021. This comes after having reduced bad loans by a total of 5 billion euros in 2018, the CEO stated.
Regarding further initiatives from the Bank of Greece and the finance ministry to help the banks with this task, Megalou said, “The more weapons you have in your arsenal to address the issue, the better.”
Greek banks have the highest ratio of NPLs across the euro zone, at 44.8 percent of total borrowing, according to the most recent figures from the European Parliament. This is a much higher percentage than that of the nation of Italy, which stood at 9.7 percent.