ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The latest developments on Greece’s bailout negotiations (all times local):
A decree on banking controls has been published in the official Government Gazette stating banks will not open Monday and will stay shut through Monday, July 6.
Greece could shorten or lengthen this period. ATMs are set to reopen early Monday afternoon at the latest. Even then, withdrawals are limited to 60 euros ($66) per day.
Visitors and other holders of credit and cash issued abroad are exempt from the restrictions. Anxious tourists had been spotted queuing at ATMs Sunday, thinking the restrictions, which had been known but not yet specified, would apply to them.
A special provision is made for Greek pensioners, many of whom don’t use ATMs.
Web banking transactions will be mostly allowed, allowing people to pay their bills online. However, they cannot move money to accounts abroad. Special provisions could be made for remittances to Greek students and patients abroad.
As Greeks brace for the specifics on capital controls, Greece’s finance ministry has announced that the strict withdrawal limits will not apply to holders of credit or debit cards issued in foreign countries.
This is seen as a necessary move after worries that tourists were seen joining locals in front of ATMs on Sunday. Any similar restriction would hurt tourism, Greece’s one thriving industry, which accounts for at least a fifth of economic activity.
Meanwhile, a marathon Cabinet meeting to discuss the capital controls has ended after 8 hours.
Spooked by rumors concerning impending fuel shortages, drivers are flooding gas stations across Greece, leading the country’s largest refiner to issue a statement reassuring there are enough reserves.
Refiner Hellenic Petroleum says that “we maintain fuel reserves for several months. The supply of our refineries with crude oil is also assured.”
In fact, the rush to the gas stations has been prompted less by worries about shortages than rumors that only withdrawals of up to 60 euros ($66) per day from ATMs will be allowed and that use of credit or debit cards will not be permitted.
Cyprus’ finance minister says his own bailed-out country could consider writing off 330 million euros ($370 million) in rescue loans to Greece if there is a deal with other euro area member nations to lighten the country’s debt load.
Harris Georgiades said Sunday the amount is significant relative to the small economy of Cyprus, whose banks took a 4.5 billion euro loss after the 2012 decision to write down Greece’s government bonds.
But he said Cyprus would be “willing to accept any mutually agreed arrangement that would further decrease Greece’s debt.”
Georgiades said Cyprus supported extending Greece’s rescue program because it would be “catastrophic” for a country to stay locked out of international markets without having such a program in place.
He said any Greek rescue program should be reform-oriented instead of raising taxes.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says the Bank of Greece has recommended that banks remain closed and restrictions be imposed on transactions, after the European Central Bank didn’t increase the amount of emergency liquidity the lenders can access from the central bank.
Sunday’s move comes after two days of long lines forming at ATMs across the country, following Tsipras’ decision to call a referendum on creditor proposals for Greek reforms in return for vital bailout funds.
Tsipras gave no details of how long banks will remain closed or what restrictions will be placed on transactions. Banking officials said lenders would remain shut for at least a day, with some media reporting the institutions would remain closed for at least a week.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has called a Cabinet meeting tonight, starting at 8 p.m., after a dramatic day which saw Greeks flocking to ATM machines to withdraw what money they could, fearing limits would be placed on banking transactions imminently.
The move comes after Tsipras called for a referendum on creditor proposals for Greek reforms in return for bailout cash — a decision which shocked Greece’s European partners.
The country’s negotiations with its European creditors have been suspended, with both sides accusing each other of being responsible.
The European Central Bank has left unchanged the amount of emergency liquidity available to Greek banks, putting further pressure on the system and heightening the chances of capital controls being imposed.
The European Commission says it has released the text of its proposals on Greek reforms, which are the documents Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has asked his countrymen to vote on in a referendum.
The Greek government is advocating a no vote in next Sunday’s referendum, saying the proposals were humiliating for Greece and would have pushed the country’s already devastated economy further into recession.
But the proposals Greeks are being called on to vote for haven’t been officially released until now, or translated into Greek.
The commission said it was releasing the text of the proposals “in the interests of transparency and for the information of the Greek people.”
It said discussions had been ongoing with Greek authorities on Friday night on the proposals, and that any agreement would have “addressed future financing needs and the sustainability of the Greek debt.”
It has been a longstanding demand of Tsipras’ government that creditors offer some sort of debt write down or forgiveness, arguing the country’s debt is too big to be repaid.
However, the commission said, neither the latest version of the document nor a deal could be finalized because of “the unilateral decision of the Greek authorities to abandon the process on the evening of 26 June.”
International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde says she has briefed the IMF board on the “inconclusive outcome of recent discussions on Greece” and says the next few days will be important.
She says she shared her “disappointment and underscored our commitment to continue to engage with the Greek authorities.” Lagarde says she welcomed promises by the eurozone’s finance ministers and the European Central Bank “to make full use of all available instruments to preserve the integrity and stability of the euro area.”
The IMF chief said she backed a balanced approach “to help restore economic stability and growth in Greece, with appropriate structural and fiscal reforms supported by appropriate financing and debt sustainability measures.”
A spokesman for Greece says it was the creditors who ended bailout negotiations by presenting an ultimatum.
Government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis predicts that ultimatum will be rejected in next Sunday’s referendum — and says that will allow talks on Greece’s financial future to resume on a sounder basis.
He says “The Greek people’s proud ‘No’ will mark the continuation of negotiations to achieve a real and substantial solution and not an agreement that will recycle the problems.” The newspaper I Efimerida ton Syntakton published his comments Sunday.
Sakellaridis said the government will respect the result of the referendum but did not say whether it would apply the creditors’ measures or resign if the Greek people voted to accept the proposals.
The Greek vote next Sunday on approving creditors’ demands for Greece will be the country’s first referendum in 41 years — and the logistics of it are daunting.
The referendum that Parliament approved early Sunday sees citizens voting July 5 on two creditor proposals — one of which is a very technical debt sustainability analysis. These have not even been translated yet into Greek.
Others argue the vote won’t be on documents, it will be a vote on whether or not Greece stays in the euro.
Ballot officials for each voting precinct must be called up, but these must be headed by lawyers, who often have to travel to remote places.
The last Greek referendum was when voters abolished the monarchy in 1974.
Greece’s finance minister is suggesting that his country might not pay the 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion) it owes to the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday.
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis refused to reply to a direct question Sunday on the payment. Instead, he told BBC radio that the European Central Bank should pay the money to the IMF out of the profits it made on Greek bonds in 2014. Varoufakis calls that idea “a very sensible transfer.”
Asked directly, for the second time, whether Greece will pay up Tuesday, Varoufakis replies: “We are owed money by one part of the troika and we owe money to another part of the troika? Why don’t they sort themselves out and transfer money from one pocket … to the other?”
The European Central Bank has announced it is maintaining emergency credit to Greek banks at its current level.
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