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Housing Finance Agency: Increased interest in loans due to interest rates

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There is increased interest in loans from the Housing Finance Agency (OHS) in a high interest rate environment, in which the Agency continues to keep its interest rates low.

However the Agency has to faces a number of internal challenges, such as computerization and increased staffing needs, to fulfill its role.

The OHS budget was discussed today in the Parliamentary Finance Committee. For 2023, it is in surplus by €1.7 million and is financed from own resources, with revenues and expenses amounting to €19.5 million and €17.8 million, respectively.

As stated after the end of the Committee by the General Director of the OHS Christoforos Kaplanis, the Organization has a very good financial position based on its financial situation.

“We certainly have several internal challenges in the future, which they have to do with technological upgrading and other processes, which will further empower the organization to fulfill its social role of financing low- and middle-income people,” he said.

He mentioned that there is a perspective due to the economic environment, there are customers of the Organization who believe in him, but there is also an increased interest.

Answering questions as to whether the OHS can respond to the increased requests, he said that due to the financial circumstances that had to do with the structure of the Board in the past period, there were some weaknesses in terms of staffing and meeting some needs. Now, he added, OXS is able to proceed, always within the framework of the procedures provided for a legal entity under public law. He added that they are moving forward soon with the filling of some positions that will help strengthen the Organization.

The OXS mortgage rate starts at about 2%, as Mr. Kaplanis said, when the market is currently moving to higher levels. However, he noted that the Organization must also follow some course of increasing interest rates in order to cover the cost of deposits. He added that loans are currently being given, but there is a large influx of requests that they are trying to process.

Speaking to the Committee, the Director of Financial and Administrative Services of the OHS, Vasiliki Vassiliou, said that a large amount has been budgeted for the digital transition, which will significantly increase the Agency's cost-to-income ratio.

However, as Mr. Kaplanis mentioned, this amount will increase future revenues, since through the new computer system there can be new services that will bring income to strengthen the organization.

Ms. Vassiliou also mentioned that the Organization's priority is to manage Non-Performing Loans (NPLs), while he stated that the Organization with the means it currently has is not in a position to increase its portfolio.

Speaking to the Commission, the Acting Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Organization, Dimitris Koursaris, stated that the effort is to have the Organization as a cheaper bank than others and expressed the opinion that the Organization has a perspective, but it needs some time. As he said, the Organization can compete with other banks in a high interest rate regime, and it has some advantages such as the absence of shareholders pushing for a dividend and it is not a systemic bank.

In his statements, the MP of DIPA Alekos Tryfonidis, said that the political responsibilities of the outgoing Government are enormous because the organization was without a head for almost 2 years with the absence of a General Director, president and members of the board of directors.

Hopefully, he added, a new General was recently appointed Director, however there is still no President and Vice President. He added that the OHS together with the Land Development Organization are the organizations that should support the middle and lower classes of the people in the midst of economic crisis. He also mentioned that it is necessary to keep the OXS at low levels and to take advantage of its comparative advantages.

Source: 24h.com.cy

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