Greek banks closed till Wednesday

Athens, July 7 (IANS) The Greek government extended the week-long bank holiday that started on June 29 till Wednesday, while its latest proposal for a debt deal was to be presented to an emergency Eurogroup meeting on Tuesday and an extraordinary eurozone summit later in the evening.

Greeks gave a resounding “No” to creditors’ draft deal proposal in Sunday’s referendum, which could possibly lead to a default and the Greek exit from the eurozone.

The extension of the bank closure, which was aimed at tightening capital controls to avert a further bank run and the collapse of the banking system, was announced after a meeting between Deputy Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas, Greek Bank Association chief Louka Katseli and other bankers on Monday night, Xinhua news agency reported.

Only 1,000 bank branches will be exempted, as it had happened last week, to service pensioners and the unemployed for social benefits. Each individual can withdraw up to 120 euros (about $131.50) weekly from these bank branches, while debit card users can withdraw up to 60 euros daily from ATMs.

The government is expected to decide when to reopen the banks and whether to lift or change the limit of capital controls after the crucial talks in Brussels.

Mardas told media that the government would soon announce its decision on when savers may have access to safe deposits boxes in banks’ vaults.

Katseli said last week that ATMs were expected to run out of cash by Tuesday, but Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis assured that depositors can withdraw cash until this Friday as long as the capital controls of 60 euros per day continue.

Greece will resubmit Tuesday a request for a two-year bailout programme worth 29 billion euros through the European Stability Mechanism, according to government sources. Athens presented the idea earlier in July but was rejected by its lenders.

Some European partners have openly expressed their preference for the signing of a “bridge agreement” that would last for only a few months in exchange for the swift implementation of reforms by Greece before a comprehensive deal is reached.

European officials and financial experts warn that any decisions should be made by July 20, when Greece needs to repay 3.5 billion euros in loan installments to the European Central Bank.

Greece missed a similar crucial deadline on June 30 and was declared in arrears to the International Monetary Fund.

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