By Elizabeth Anderson, and agencies 19 July 2015
Greek banks are preparing to open again for the first time in three weeks, although cash withdrawal limits will remain
There have been chaotic scenes outside bank branches in recent weeks as people tried to withdraw money before capital controls were imposed Photo: Orestis Panagiotou / EPA
Queues are expected to form across Greece on Monday as the troubled country prepares to re-open its banks for the first time in three weeks, although cash withdrawal limits will remain.
Senior banking officials said they expect long queues as people line up to withdraw money from their safety deposit boxes, which have been closed to customers while bank shutters have been in place.
However, Greeks were also urged to put their money back into their accounts to give the economy a much-needed boost.
“If we take our money out of chests and from our homes - where they are not safe in any case - and we deposit them in the banks, we will strengthen the liquidity of the economy,” Louka Katseli, the head of Greece’s banking association, said in a television interview on Sunday.
Banks will not offer a full service. Customers will continue to face restrictions on cash withdrawals, with a weekly cap of €420 replacing the daily limit of €60. A ban on money transfers to foreign banks and a block on the opening of new accounts will continue.
A man cleans the pavement in front a closed Attica Bank branch in Athens on Sunday. (Photo: REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou)
Greek banks have been closed since the end of June, after the country was unable to unlock crucial bail-out cash from its Eurozone creditors and defaulted on debts to the International Monetary Fund.
The three-week shutdown of Greece's banking system is estimated to have cost the economy €3bn in market shortages and export disruption.
Greece's banks are able to open again after the European Central Bank agreed on Thursday to raise the liquidity it provides to the country’s banks by €900m (£630m), which should tide them over for a short time.
Eurozone finance ministers also agreed to give Greece a €7bn bridging loan, which should help the government meet the next couple of debt payments.
The Athens Stock Exchange will stay closed on Monday, officials said.
Greeks will also have to endure higher prices, with goods and services including sugar, taxis and funerals now taxed at 23pc, up from 13pc.
The Greek bank closure has left many people struggling to access their pensions (Photo: Bloomberg)
Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, expressed confidence that a €3.5bn transfer to the Eurozone's central bank and a payment to the IMF would be made by the Greek government this week.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras - who barely has time to eat or sleep, according to his mother - faces a fresh challenge in the Greek parliament on Wednesday to approve a second wave of reforms needed for its economic rescue.