BUSINESS

Business sector hails move to lift capital controls as return to stability

TAGS: Banking, Business

Greece’s business sector welcomed an announcement by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Monday of a return to normalcy and stability with the full lifting of capital controls imposed at the peak of the financial crisis.

The decision “lifts a significant burden on the credibility and the prospects of the Greek economy,” the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) said in an announcement.

SEV went on to urge the government to take advantage of “this positive development” by carrying out reforms aimed at “bolstering the confidence of depositors and investors to the benefit of the economy and society at large.” 

In a similar vein, Konstantinos Michalos, the president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Central Union of Chambers, heralded the move – which was proposed last month by the Greek central bank and greenlighted by the European Central Bank’s Single Supervisory Mechanism – as “the final step in the return of the economy and the market to normalcy.”

He said that the free movement of capital should bring about sharp reductions in the fees and commissions charged by lenders, adding that these costs “are having a negative effect on the competitiveness of Greek businesses and often push companies into a financial corner.”

The abolition of restrictions on capital transfers was also lauded by Vassilis Korkidis, the head of the Piraeus Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“Freedom is returning to the market, which had been held hostage for more than four years,” he said, deploring the devastating impact of capital controls on the local economy.

“Capital controls were the heaviest punishment of entrepreneurship and, potentially, the toughest limitation on the country’s economy,” Korkidis said.

Removing the restrictions, introduced by the previous leftist government to prevent a bank run during the Grexit crisis in June 2015, was a key priority of Mitsotakis’ pro-business administration.

Analysts say the development will help restore trust, lure investment and facilitate an upgrade of the economy’s credit ratings.

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