BUSINESS

Are the capital controls easing?

YIANNIS PAPADOYIANNIS

TAGS: Banking

The government is gearing up to launch new measures that are billed as easing the capital controls but which will in fact reduce the annual amount of cash bank clients can withdraw.

As of September 1, when the new measures come into force, citizens will be able to withdraw a total of 1,800 euros per month. When the controls were first introduced in July 2015, Greeks could only withdraw 60 euros a day, 365 days a year, but since then they have been allowed to carry that amount forward up to a period of two weeks, giving them a 840-euro limit every 14 days (fixed, from midnight Friday to midnight two weeks later). That will remain the case until the end of August.

The extension of the cumulative withdrawal period may facilitate transactions, but on an annual basis the total amount a bank customer can withdraw will fall from 21,840 euros (840 euros x 26 two-week periods) to 21,600 (1,800 euros x 12 months).

Greeks could in fact withdraw more money per year on the original limit of 60 euros per day, totaling 21,900 euros a year, as that avoided the fixed-two-week-period problem. In other words the “easing” of restrictions has resulted in curtailing people’s withdrawal limit by 300 euros per annum, for the right to transfer a withdrawal to another day or week.

Bank sources tell Kathimerini it is a positive move that will strengthen confidence, make transactions easier and boost the economy.

The new measures will also affect withdrawals in foreign currency in Greece and the use of Greek debit cards for withdrawals abroad.

As of September 1 any recipients of money forwarded from abroad will be able to withdraw 50 percent of the amount without any restrictions.

Companies will also be able to open an account at a credit institution by creating a new customer ID regardless of whether they already have another account there. Farmers, who have not been allowed to open bank accounts since the controls started, will finally be allowed to (provided they do not have one already). Employees will be further able to open a new salary account at a different bank to the one at which they are already a client or if their new employer pays their salary at another lender.

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