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Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Greek banks reopen with real economy severely hit

After a three-week bank closure, the doors of all 2,500 Greek bank branches across the country reopened on Monday with capital controls remaining in place.

People lined up to get into the banks to perform various transactions, while most depositors queued to ask for information over the restrictions.

"People are very cooperative. They are concerned about their deposits, but they do not complain and show patience," an employee from a bank at Piraeus port told Xinhua.

"The majority today wanted to make simple transactions, but there are also customers who need to travel abroad and need to transfer money for health reasons," she added.

Customers can withdraw the daily limit of 60 euro (65 U.S. dollars) cumulatively at the end of the week. In addition, they can deposit and transfer cash between existing accounts and activate web, mobile and phone banking services.

"My daughter lives and studies in London, so I came to settle the deposit, to send her money. Unfortunately, with capital controls our life gets more complex than before, but we will try to overcome that as well," Maria Doukeri told Xinhua as she exited from a bank branch at the northern suburb of Neo Psychiko in Athens.

Among the depositors, were pensioners who hadn't received a cash card. "I came to withdraw 60 euros as my cash card is not activated yet," Michalis Mouroutsos, a pensioner, told Xinhua.

The payment of checks and bills of exchange is another issue for many businesses. "I have a check that expired last week, so I came to ask what the procedure is," a businessman told Xinhua as he waited in line for his turn.

Thousands of checks maturing within the period of the bank holiday have raised concern.

The president of Professionals' Chamber of Athens, Giannis Xatzitheodosiou, appealed to the Greek government asking for an extension to the bad checks.

"It's like a time bomb that threatens thousands of businesses and it is not their fault," he stressed in a statement.

The Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) said more than 4,500 containers with raw materials and products were trapped at customs as importers could not make a transaction.

"Transactions worth an estimated 6 billion euros have been frozen," ACCI president Konstantinos Michalos stated.

The Panhellenic Exporters Association pointed out the exports sector had been hit severely the last 20 days.

"We cannot perform a series of transactions such as logistics and packaging. It is difficult to regain the trust of years with businesses from abroad once it is lost," Christina Sakellaridi, president of the association, told Xinhua.

George Pagoulatos, professor of European Politics and Economy at the Athens University of Economics and Business, said the restrictions imposed to the transactions abroad complicates paying suppliers and repatriating profits.

"Stability and trust towards the banking system are prerequisites, and that will come after the implementation of the new debt deal with our European partners, the first review and of course the decision over the debt relief," he stressed.

Due to capital controls, 69 percent of the businesses showed a dramatic decrease in their sales, another 58 percent were hit by the restrictions in the international transactions, while a 28 percent plans to transfer its headquarters abroad, according to a survey published Monday by Endeavor Greece, an international non-profit organization that supports local entrepreneurs.

  Xinhua - china.org.cn
21/7/15

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