Greece may ease capital controls but no end in sight


Greece is looking into further easing capital controls but there is no end in sight to measure that prevented the collapse of the country's financial system nearly three years ago.

Greek bank officials said Friday that a series of steps are being put together to help ease capital restrictions that are stifling investment activity and weighing heavily on economic sentiment in the country. These proposed steps have yet to be approved by the country's international creditors, eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund.

Among the measures is lifting the monthly cash withdrawal limit to 2,300 euros from 1,800 euros, and allowing for the easier opening of new bank accounts, said one bank official.

Officials in Athens want the step to reflect the country's improving economic prospects. After an eight year economic downturn, Greece's gross domestic product is seen expanding in 2017

by 1.6% and 2.5% in 2018, according to the latest forecasts from the European Commission.

However, there is no time frame as to when Greece may see an end to capitals controls. Previous forecasts as to when the measure may be lifted have fallen way off, prompting Greek government and bank officials to avoid any further forecasts.

After Greece introduced capital limits in June 2015, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he expected them to be lifted in early 2016. In early 2017, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos had said he sees them coming to an end before 2018.

In contrast to Greece, Cyprus fully lifted its capital controls two years after they were introduced during its own financial crisis.

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