Greece reopened its banks and ordered billions of euros owed to international creditors to be repaid on Monday in the first signs of a return to normal after last week’s deal to agree a tough new package of bailout reforms.
Customers queued up as bank branches opened for the first time in three weeks on Monday. Increases in value added tax (VAT) agreed under the bailout terms also took effect, with VAT on processed food and public transport jumping to 23 per cent from 13 per cent. The stock market remained closed until further notice.
Their reopening followed reluctant acceptance of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to a tough package of bailout demands from European partners, but a revolt in the ruling Syriza party now threatens the stability of his government.
Limits on withdrawals will remain, however ¬ at 420 euros per week instead of 60 euros per day previously ¬ and payments and wire transfers abroad will still not be possible, a situation German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday was not a normal life and warranted swift negotiations on a new bailout, expected to be worth up to 86 billion euros.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2015.