Economy Minister Christodoulakis: Capital controls on bank transactions could be lifted by the end of 2015

Greek Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on Thursday said it was feasible to lift capital controls on bank transactions by the end of the year on the condition that economic stability was restored in the country. Speaking to reporters during a news conference, Christodoulakis announced a relaxation of electronic bank transactions for sums up to 5,000, which will be approved directly by commercial banks.

He also said that authorities were examining incentives and recommendations for the return of capital –kept in households or deposited abroad- to the Greek banking system and asked commercial banks to lower the commissions paid by customers because of the capital controls. He also announced that new students or students in the Erasmus program will be allowed to open new bank accounts, while candidate deputies will be allowed to open a short-term bank account for cover their pre-election expenses which must be made through credit cards.

Christodoulakis said that he will submit a report to the EU requesting a rise in funds envisaged in the 2014-2020 EU program, currently at 20 billion euros. Under the plan, the government aims to restructure and review all programs included in the previous EU funding program (2007-2014) by the end of September and to request an extension of the absorption period by 6-12 months. Greece will also request higher investment funds for the new EU funding program, a crisis dividend, as he described it. He noted that the employment criterion will be clearly stated in all funding programs.

The minister also noted that the government was drafting a new development law which will need creation of a fund –which will be listed in the stock exchange- using as capital all financial support to enterprises envisaged under the new development law. The new legislation will envisage the creation of a special credit ability certification mechanism, adding that the new law’s main goal will be job creation.