Greece eases protection on troubled mortgages as bad loans rise

ATHENS, Greece – The Greek government says it will partially lift protection for distressed mortgages in the crisis-hit country to protect banks from a rising number of unpaid loans.

The Development Ministry said Wednesday it will extend through 2014 a freeze on repossession but only for primary properties valued at up to 200,000 euros ($275,000) and households with an annual net income of under 35,000 euros.

But blanket protection on main household properties — a measure essentially in effect since the start of the financial crisis four years ago — will end on Jan. 1, the ministry said.

The Bank of Greece on Tuesday said the general amount of non-performing loans had risen to 29.3 in June, from 24.5 per cent a year earlier.

The new regulations are to be voted by parliament Saturday.