Greek banks ready to open today, expect long queues

ATHENS. KAZINFORM - Greek banks expect long queues but no major problems when they reopen on Monday for the first time in three weeks, although withdrawals will still be limited and capital controls will remain, senior banking officials said.

The cautious reopening of the banks, and an increase in value added tax on restaurant food and public transport from Monday, are aimed at restoring trust inside and outside Greece after an aid-for-reforms deal last week averted bankruptcy. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is trying to turn a corner after bailout terms he reluctantly accepted prompted a rebellion in his leftist Syriza party. He sacked party rebels in a government reshuffle on Friday and is seeking a swift start to talks on the bailout accord with European partners and the IMF before elections which Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis said were likely in September or October. The government on Saturday issued a decree ordering the lenders to pull up their shutters on Monday after they were closed on June 29 to prevent the system collapsing as withdrawals skyrocketed over worries on Greece's debt crisis. The head of Greece's banking association Louka Katseli urged Greeks, who will be able to withdraw 420 euros a week at once instead of just 60 euros a day, to put their money back. "Tomorrow when the banks reopen and normality is restored, let's all help our economy. If we take our money out of chests and from our homes - where they are not safe in any case - and we deposit them in the banks, we will strengthen the liquidity of the economy," she told Skai television on Sunday. Sigmar Gabriel, economy minister of Germany, the biggest contributor to eurozone bailouts, said the deal could succeed where previous ones failed because the European Union now emphasises growth and investment rather than just austerity. It would depend on reforms being enacted and "convincing the population that this is a path that allows Greece to assert itself rather than becoming a permanent alms-receiver," he said in extracts from a television interview. French President Francois Hollande, who pushed hard for a deal, said the Greek crisis had weakened Europeans' faith in the European project and revived calls for the creation of a euro zone government. "What threatens us is not an excess of Europe but its insufficiency," Hollande wrote in an op-ed in the Journal du Dimanche weekly newspaper.

DEPOSIT BOXES The deal struck at a euro zone summit last week allowed the European Central Bank to top up emergency credit lines which the Greek banking sector needs to survive. "The banks are ready to open and we don't expect any major problems on Monday," an official at the Central Bank of Greece said. As well as getting a weekly limit instead of a daily one, customers will also be able to access their safety deposit boxes and withdraw money without a credit card. Deposit boxes are not affected by the capital restrictions and clients can therefore take whatever they want from them, bank officials said. But restrictions on transfers abroad and other capital controls remain in place. Source: Arab News

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