NEWS

Ministry tells Greek banks to lay off social dividend

More than 200,000 beneficiaries received a share of Greece's much-touted primary surplus on Friday, according to the Finance Ministry which rapped banks for seizing the sum from account-holders with debts in certain cases.

A total of 205,912 households, who had made their applications up to an initial May 3 deadline, received a portion of the so-called social divided, the ministry said in a statement, noting that the total paid into those accounts amounted to 133.2 million euros.

Responding to reports that banks had seized the amount from account-holders with outstanding payments on their loans or credit cards, the ministry indicated that the banks should return the sums, noting that the social dividend is "non-taxable, non-deductible and cannot be seized or offset with other debts to the state or banks."

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and his deputy Christos Staikouras contacted the Hellenic Bank Association and called on it to intervene to ensure the law is enforced, the ministry said.

The deadline for the remaining applications for the social dividend is June 30, with the total amount to be handed out reaching 450 million euros.

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