About 50 per cent of the applications to the Estia Scheme forwarded to the Labour ministry by the banks had been approved, said the permanent secretary of the finance ministry Giorgos Panteli.
Of the total 6,800 applications to the scheme, which would offer state support for the repayment of a loan on a primary residence, 2,000 had been submitted to the Labour ministry for approval so far. The ministry has given until the end of this month for the remaining 4,800 to be submitted.
Through the Estia Scheme, the state would pay 30 per cent of bad debts on primary residences, valued at below €300,000, on condition that the debtor would agree to make regular repayments to the bank. There was little interest among debtors to start with and the government kept putting the deadline for applications back.
Speaking on state radio on Monday morning, Panteli said there were two reasons for the rejection of 1,000 applications by the labour ministry. “The main reason was that applications were incomplete,” he said, explaining that “applicants have not given their consent for checks to be carried out on their assets and incomes.”
This meant the ministry could not establish whether applicants satisfied the income and assets criteria. Many applicants had refused to sign the declaration giving consent to the checks.
“It is too big a percentage to conclude all applicants were not aware they had to sign this declaration so that the state services could carry out the necessary checks,” said Panteli. “Some might not have been aware they had to sign the declaration, but many were and did not sign it.”
The other reason applications were rejected, said the permanent secretary, was that they did not satisfy the criteria. For instance, the market price of a primary residence eligible for the scheme may have exceeded the €300,000 value limit, or the income of the owner may have been higher than the maximum set by the criteria for eligibility.
Some 10 per cent of the applications rejected by the ministry were considered unviable – officials did not believe the owner could make the repayments proposed by the bank. These cases, Panteli said, would be forwarded to finance ministry which would examine each one separately, with regard to offering assistance.