Greek banks reopen amid tax rise

Athens, July 20 (IANS) Greek banks reopened on Monday after remaining closed for three weeks due to a deadlock over the country’s debt, as the government initiated repaying loans to the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, a media report said.

The shutdown was imposed on June 29 to prevent Greece’s financial system from collapsing, the Guardian reported.

The withdrawal amount has increased up to 420 euros (about $455) a week in one transaction instead of 60 euros ($66) a day since the shutdown was first imposed.

Restrictions on sending money abroad and other controls have not been lifted and the Athens stock market remained closed until further notice.

Long queues formed outside bank branches in central Athens ahead of the reopening, Greece’s Kathimerini daily reported.

Greeks will now be able to deposit cheques but not cash, pay bills as well as have access to safety deposit boxes and withdraw money without an ATM card.

The decision to re-open the banks came on Friday afternoon after a teleconference between the Bank of Greece and European Central Bank (ECB). A number of technical issues were resolved in the meeting, the country’s To Vima daily reported.

The ministerial decision was announced on Saturday.

According to the circular issued by the general secretary of public revenue, a new three-tiered Value Added Tax (VAT) reform was also due to be effective from Monday.

The VAT increase was among a package of reforms demanded by Greece’s creditors to open talks on the proposed 86 billion euros ($89 billion) bailout. The reform sets out three rates — 6 percent, 13 percent and 23 percent.

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