(AGI) Rome, Dec 15 - Loans to families and businesses werestill hard to come by, but are expected to pick up graduallybetween the beginning and the middle of 2015, Bank of Italychief Ignazio Visco told the Chamber of Deputies' FinanceCommittee. European Central Bank long-term refinancingoperations had to go to funding the real economy, tobusinessmen and consumers. He said bank loans to non-financialbusinesses would start to increase as of the middle of 2015,while loans to families should start to increase early in thenew year. In line with ECB President Mario Drahi's comments inFrankfurt, he said that upcoming ECB Governing Council measuresand the conclusion of the stress test exercise could help toaccelerate credit recovery. The first two long-term refinancingoperations amounted to 212 billion euros, just over half of themaximum potentially achievable by the system as a whole.Recourse by the Italian banks had been 57 billion, comparedwith a potential maximum of around 75 billion. These resultswere consistent with the weak demand for credit. Theintermediaries had explicitly stated their intention to steerlow-cost funding achieved through long-term refinancing towardsbusinesses and families, and it was crucial that this did infact happen, Mr Visco added. . .