Small change to capital controls


The government is considering the introduction of a monthly limit – instead of the existing biweekly one – for cash withdrawals at 1,800 euros in the context of a partial relaxation of capital controls, spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said on Thursday.

The Hellenic Bank Association also recommends the introduction of a monthly limit in the updated set of proposals it has submitted to the Finance Ministry and the Bank of Greece.

Capping withdrawals at 1,800 euros per month would mean a bank client could only take 21,600 euros out of their account on annual basis while the current limit of 840 euros per 14 days means they can withdraw a maximum of 21,840 euros per year.

However, banks believe that the introduction of a monthly limit would make it easier for depositors to handle their accounts even while reducing their annual limit.

This proposal constitutes a downward revision from the original for a 2,000-euro monthly limit, made in 2016, and is supported by the central bank, which realizes that conditions on the deposits front have not made any real progress, as they have only posted a marginal increase over the last month. The banks’ proposal for the 2,000-euro limit was made before the delay in the second bailout review led to a new drop in the sum of deposits this year.

Lenders consider the easing of capital controls for enterprises by raising the limit on capital transfers abroad that can be approved by a bank branch from 30,000 to 50,000 euros to be a more substantial move. This process does not require an application to the bank’s subcommittee or the ministry’s committee that examines applications for amounts in excess of 400,000 euros.

Bank sources add there has been a positive response to the HBA proposal to allow for adding another signatory to an existing bank account even if that means the creation of a new customer ID for the bank. That would be of significant assistance for bank clients as it has not been possible to add more signatories to an account since the day the capital controls were imposed two years ago.