In Brief

Greece to end limits on cash withdrawals

Restrictions on amount of money transferred overseas will also be lifted as capital controls eased

Greece is to end restrictions on cash withdrawals and the amount of money that can be transferred overseas, as part of wide-ranging measures to ease capital controls imposed at the height of the debt crisis three years ago.

As of 1 October, Greeks outside the country will be able to withdraw up to €5,000 in banks abroad, while the amount of euros or foreign currency allowed to be transferred from Greece to other countries is raised from €3,000 to €10,000.

The new measures also increase the daily limit of money transfers abroad by businesses from €40,000 to €100,000, and allows the transfer abroad of profits and dividends on foreign capital invested in Greece of - up to 100% of the invested amount.

 “The decision is one more step on the roadmap towards a gradual lifting of restrictions ... on capital transfers,” the finance ministry said in a statement.

The Syriza-led government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras imposed capital controls to stem a flight of cash from Greek banks in July 2015, when, at the height of its debt crisis, it faced bankruptcy and a euro exit.

In a bid to prevent the entire financial system crashing, banks shut for three weeks, after which cash withdrawals were limited to just €60 a day per person. 

The intervening three-and-half years saw a long line of cash-raising initiatives, including equipping housewives, students and tourists with cameras and recorders to trap tax dodgers.

At one point police dogs were used to sniff out concealed cash savings. Central bank officials estimated that Greeks had cleared out much of their savings accounts, “with €50bn withdrawn between November 2014 and [July 2016] as fears that the country would be forced out the single European currency soared”, says The Times.

Last month Greece finally emerged from the last of three international bailouts and almost nine years of austerity, although it “remains heavily indebted and under fiscal monitoring by the European Union and International Monetary Fund”, says CNBC.

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