Greek debt crisis: Key points of Athens bank controls

People withdraw their savings from ATMs in Athens. (Aris Messinis, AFP)

People withdraw their savings from ATMs in Athens. (Aris Messinis, AFP)

The decree – entitled Bank Holiday break – was signed by the Greek prime minister AlexTsipras and president Prokopis Pavlopoulos.

It cited “the extremely urgent and unforeseen need to protect the Greek financial system and the Greek economy due to the lack of liquidity caused by the Eurogroup’s decision on June 27 to refuse the extension of the loan agreement with Greece”.

Here are its key measures:

  • All Greek banks – including branches of foreign banks – will remain closed until after the referendum on the bailout proposals . The government says they will reopen on Tuesday July 7.
  • Cash machine withdrawals will be capped until July 6. Many machines are already reported to have run out of bank notes, although the government said ATMs should “operate normally again by Monday noon at the latest”.
  • The €60 limit is per bank card. The limit can be changed by the finance minister.
  • People using a credit or debit card issued in a foreign country will not be affected by the limits on ATM withdrawals. Thousands of foreign tourists currently staying in Greece could still be affected by cash machines running dry, however, and the finance minister could yet set withdrawal limits here too.
  • The Athens stock exchange will not open on Monday.
  • Pension payments will be exempt from the bank transaction restrictions, while there will be “no problem for wages paid electronically into bank accounts”, the statement said.
  • Paying by credit or debit card in shops and between Greek bank accounts should continue to work as normal. The government statement said online transactions inside Greece will not be affected.
  • Transfers of money to destinations outside Greece are prohibited and will require approval from a Ministry of Finance commission.
  • A new banking transactions approval committee will have to approve, on a case-by-case basis, any urgent transactions deemed “necessary to safeguard a public or social interest”, such as medical expenses or pharmaceutical imports.
  • Interest surcharges on due payments are prohibited during the period of closure.
  • Banks breaching the rules face fines of up to 10% of the amount of any transaction violating the control measures.

The statement allows for the “bank holiday period” to be extended – or shortened – by the finance minister.

Much will depend on the outcome of the referendum on July 5 . - © Guardian News & Media 2015


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