ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s prime minister says the country will soon lift the last remaining restrictions imposed on bank depositors more than four years ago at the height of the country’s financial crisis.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Monday the removal of the restrictions, known as capital controls, next week will end a long “cycle of insecurity.” The restrictions mostly concern movement of funds abroad, for both individuals and businesses.
Greek authorities imposed the measures in June 2015 to stop a developing bank run as depositors panicked by the government’s escalating clash with its bailout creditors made mass cash withdrawals.
At first, depositors were only allowed to withdraw 60 euros ($66) a day, but the limit was gradually relaxed and then scrapped.
Greece was kept afloat by international bailouts from 2010-2018.
According to sources, the institutions ratified the relevant amendment last Saturday.
The decision to fully lift capital controls was a “decisive step for the normalisation of the Greek economy,” Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said in parliament on Monday, after tabling the relevant amendment earlier announced by the prime minister.
“The government, via its economic team, is proceeding with the complete lifting of capital controls as of September 1…The country must and will become a normal country,” he said, addressing parliament during the plenary debate on a draft bill introducing EU regulations on data privacy.
The amendment abolishes the statutes of the Act of Legislative Content that imposed capital controls on July 18, 2015.
Staikouras said the decision was taken in collaboration with the Bank of Greece and with the agreement of banks and European supervisory authorities.
He said capital controls were the result of a “chaotic, clumsy, opportunist and dangerous negotiation” conducted by the SYRIZA government of that time, while their lifting ended a “destabilising factor of insecurity” for Greece. Staikouras noted that the country’s economic indices were already improving and that there were clear signs of recovery, stability and strengthening of the Greek economy.
“Restoring the free movement of capital is a decisive step forward and steadily contributes to a further improvement of the country’s credit rating,” he added.