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Tsipras asks Greek Banks to give Bad Loan Breaks

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Branch of Piraeus Bank in Athens. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Giannis Panagopoulos)

ATHENS - Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who’s allowing banks to foreclose on homes and chase smaller debtors, now wants them to give their customers relief from bad loans.

Tsipras met with the Hellenic Bank Association (HBA) on Feb. 28, the business newspaper Naftemporiki said, and asked them offer a break to households and businesses who can’t pay what they owe, contradicting what he promised the country’s international lenders, who want the banks to reduce their holdings in so-called Non-Performing Loans (NPLS).

The Radical Left SYRIZA leader also broke a promise not to let bad loans be sold to debt collectors while major debtors who owe banks hundreds of millions of euros they got in loans without collateral won’t pay them.

That includes the former ruling New Democracy Conservatives and their then-partner and otherwise rival the PASOK Socialists (now Democratic Alignment) who owe 250 million euros ($263.89 million), don’t have to report where the money went and aren’t being pursued to pay it back after giving immunity to the loan officers who approved the loans.

Mimicking US President Donald Trump, Tsipras now has taken to Twitter to make pronouncements as he doesn’t hold news conferences or meet with reporters.

After the meeting, Tsipras tweeted that Greece’s seven-year economic crisis began with the banks - not governments who went on wild spending sprees and patronage hires, perpetuated by him.

"(The) crisis began from (Greek) banks' inability to offer liquidity to the economy and it (crisis) will end with the lifting of this inability. The government, banks and (other) entities must work together for the economy's recovery,” his Twitter account stated.

The major opposition New Democracy chief Kyriakos Mitsotakis meanwhile took another shot at Tsipras for agreeing to more austerity measures after 2019 - the Premier said more pension cuts, taxes on the poor and diluting workers rights would be offset by countermeasures such as trying to get tax cheats to pay up and trying to tax the rich who hide their money in secret foreign bank accounts.

Mitsotakis said Tsipras’ deal with the country’s international creditors - the details are being kept secret by the government - will be felt again by society’s most vulnerable if they include “a reduction in pensions and a lower of the tax-free threshold."

Speaking at the presentation of a new book in Athens, Mitsotakis went after populism and said the phenomenon he said was "perfected" in Greece, will face a "certain defeat by a well-documented, realistic and reasoned political speech."