Greek banks reopen with cash limits

People wait to enter a Piraeus Bank branch at the city of Iraklio in the island of Crete, Greece on Monday.

People wait to enter a Piraeus Bank branch at the city of Iraklio in the island of Crete, Greece on Monday.

Greeks woke up Monday morning to a new era - banks were finally open after being closed down for three weeks but new taxes meant coffee, tea and even condoms all cost more.

In Athens, people queued up as the banks unlocked their doors at 8 am (local time), taking a number and reading the paper as they waited for their turn at the till.

Many restrictions on transactions, including cash withdrawals, remained, however.

The Greek government kept the daily cash withdrawal limit at 60 euros ($65) but added a weekly limit of 420 euros ($455) that will be available beginning on Sunday. This means depositors who don’t make it to the bank on Monday to withdraw cash could pull out 120 euros ($130) on Tuesday instead, and so on, so Greeks don’t have to feel they need to visit an ATM every day.

Bank customers will still not be able to cash cheques, only deposit them into their accounts, and they will not be able to get cash abroad with their credit or cash cards, only make purchases. There are also restrictions on opening new accounts or activating dormant ones.

VAT rises

Many goods and services also just became more expensive as a result of a rise in value added tax (VAT) approved by Parliament.

The VAT rose from 13% to 23%, making some meats, cooking oils other than olive oil, cocoa, vinegar, salt, flowers, firewood, fertiliser, insecticides, sanitary towels and other basics all more expensive.

Services hit by the new VAT increases include restaurants and cafes, funeral parlours, taxis and computer learning centres.

On the bright side, the government pushed back the deadline for filing income taxes by a month to August 26.

Greece closed its banks beginning on June 29 to prevent a bank run as its second international bailout expired. After the Greek Parliament passed an agreement on Thursday to seek a third bailout, the European Central Bank raised its emergency funding to the cash-strapped banks.

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2022 11:43:09 pm |