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Greek banks ordered to reopen

The Greek government has ordered banks to open today, three weeks after they were shut down to prevent the system collapsing under a flood of withdrawals, as prime minister Alexis Tsipras looks to the start of new bailout talks next week.

The decree to reopen the banks came hours after new ministers were sworn in following a cabinet reshuffle in which Tsipras replaced dissident members of his ruling Syriza party following a revolt over the tough bailout terms.

The first action of the new cabinet was to sign off on a decree to reopen banks today with slightly more flexible withdrawal limits that allow a maximum of €420 a week in place of the strict limit of €60 a day currently in place. But restrictions on transfers abroad and other capital controls remain in place.

The move had been widely expected after the European Central Bank agreed to reopen the emergency credit lines which the Greek banking sector needs to survive.
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Tsipras now intends to seal the bailout accord with European partners over the next few weeks before likely new elections which interior minister Nikos Voutsis said last week could happen in September or October.

The deal, approved with the support of opposition parties on Thursday after 39 Syriza rebels withheld their backing, agrees a painful mix of tax hikes, spending curbs, and pension cuts as well as a rollback of collective bargaining agreements.

In addition, €50bn in public assets are to be placed in a special privatisation fund as collateral for loans of up to €86bn that must be agreed with European partners.

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