Capital controls abolished as of September 1

A man receives several 50 euro bank notes from an ATM in this illustration picture taken in Zurich January 16, 2015. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

The amendment lifting capital controls passed with the votes of all parties except the Communist Party, which voted “present” on Monday.

Capital controls, introduced in July 2015, will be abolished as of September 1.

The amendment for the motion had been tabled as a rider to the Justice Ministry draft bill that incorporates EU directives on privacy, which is being voted on Monday evening under fast-track procedures.

Lifting of capital controls a decisive step toward normalising Greece’s economy, Staikouras says

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.

Tsakalotos: Capital controls were set to be abolished by Syriza

The abolishment of capital controls in Greece “is the last step in a process that had neared completion before general elections” in July, former Finance minister and SYRIZA MP Euclid Tsakalotos said.

He added that the timetable worked out by the then leadership of the Finance Ministry with the aid of the Bank of Greece included three pillars, of which only the last stage of the third pillar was outstanding. “The only reason controls were not fully lifted was hesitation by the Greek banks due to the political uncertainty of elections,” Tsakalotos said, to conclude that “in any case, it is a positive outcome, fully prepared by Syriza.”

Criticizing the ruling party, the main opposition deputy said that “it’s good that New Democracy (ND) can resort to already-prepared policies, as it appears that its own initiatives in economic policy are slow to come. Of course, in ND’s case, lacking its own economic policies seems to be better than having one.”

Mitsotakis: Capital controls are now in the past

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced the lifting of capital controls during his speech in parliament. “Capital controls are now in the past,” he stressed, adding that this was done in collaboration with the Bank of Greece.

According to sources, the institutions ratified the relevant amendment last Saturday.

Addressing parliament during the debate on a draft data privacy bill, Mitsotakis praised the justice minister for the “spirit” of the draft legislation, which he hailed as an important step for modernisation, growth and social responsibility that protected citizens and especially minors.

He noted that no employer would be in a position to use data, such as that collected from cameras or information on their health, against employees or for their dismissal. All personal information will be codified and no access will be given without consent, while those breaking the law will have to think twice, he added.