Greece's banks are secure and adequately capitalised, as demonstrated by the most stringent stress tests recently carried out on a European-wide level, Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister Dimitris Liakos said in opening remarks at the NPL Summit 2018 "NPLs - NPEs and Society" held in Athens on Thursday.

In spite of this, he added, the government wanted to accelerate the reduction of non-performing loans and exposures and was working on an alternative plan to achieve this.

"The Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) mechanism will be at zero levels by the end of the year while deposits are gradually returning," Liakos said, noting that a recent injection of capital through Eurobank's merger was a "resounding vote of confidence in the prospects of our banking system."

He said those advocating calm during recent stock market turbulence were now being vindicated, pointing out that markets often over-reacted when actual risk was not very high. He criticised those indulging in "rhetorical extremes and attempts to glean political gains using bank and consumer confidence", noting that this was "dangerous and undermining."

Liakos said the government had taken specific steps in response to the challenges facing the banking system and noted that the plan for managing and reducing NPLs agreed between banks and the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) was on track.

In the meantime, a framework for out-of-court settlement was now in place to help relieve pressure on the system and protect cooperative debtors and first homes.

In order to further speed up the reduction of NPLs, the government was also working on an alternative plan for reducing risky exposures, he added, while he also noted a recent proposal put forward by the Bank of Greece, which he said should also be examined before a final solution was reached.

Bank managements were also contributing with "out of the box" ideas, he said, such as the upcoming Eurobank-Grivalia merger.

"We are open to every proposal; we seek dialogue and reject nothing a priori. At the same time, our other initiatives for reform, such as promoting electronic transactions and modernising taxation systems, indirectly led the banking system to upgrade digitally and retrain its staff," he said.

The forum was organised by Ethos Events with the portal banks.com.gr and "Chrima (Money)" magazine.