ATHENS - Development and Investments Minister Adonis Georgiadis said the New Democracy government will stop debt collectors from operating while measures are in place to contain the COVID-19 virus.
Collection agencies have been hounding people to pay even though many can’t because of the effects of a near decade-long economic and austerity crisis, with the country slowly recovering before the virus hit and threatens to undercut the rebound and hit tourism.
The former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA, breaking another vow, allowed banks to foreclose and sell debts to vulture agencies that go after people, many who suffered pay cuts, slashed pensions and job losses.
New Democracy and the former PASOK Socialists who served them in a coalition, owe some 250 million euros that reportedly wasn’t being paid after the Conservatives gave immunity to bank officers who gave the loans despite a lack of collateral.
Georgiadis said the debt collection agency operations will cease for now as Greeks have been urged to stay home and work there if they can although hundreds of thousands could be out of work if businesses, including hotels reliant on tourists, stay shuttered.
“Their operation is suspended for as long as the quarantine lasts…There can be no disturbances (by phone calls) over debt at such a time. The economy is stalling, so these weeks are as if they never happened. We certainly hope it will not last long,” the minister told private broadcaster Blue Sky TV.