SYRIZA Will End Capital Controls Before Elections

FILE - Athens customers wait for the National Bank to open. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS – Scrambling to curry favor with voters after reneging on anti-austerity promises, Greece’s ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition plans to end capital controls early in 2019, ahead of elections that show Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who imposed them in 2015, is trailing far behind the major rival New Democracy.

The Greek Finance Ministry and Bank of Greece said the restrictions, which have been gradually eased but still put limits on money being sent abroad, would be completely abolished and that further lifting would soon start, said Kathimerini.

The current ceiling of 5,000 euros ($5883) that can be transferred monthly far exceeds the amount most customers have in banks already and is essentially useless anyway. Also set to be ended are restrictions on money sent abroad both by individuals and companies.

The government is said to want to send a positive message to prospective investors with the Auig. 20 end of three international bailouts of 326 billion euros ($383.58 billion) that will see the lenders, the Troika of the European Union-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-ECB-ESM) and Washington, D.C.-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) continue to monitor the economy for years.

In a recent interview with Naftemporiki, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos praised the coming end of the capital controls and said it would happen after the final phase involving money transfers abroad.
Tsipras imposed the controls after the ECB refused to increase emergency funding to the country’s banks following a breakdown of bailout talks with the lenders, forcing him to also accept a third rescue package, this one for 86 billion euros ($101.19 billion) that came with more austerity he swore to reject but then agreed to implement.