The Greek government has reportedly sent a circular to all its embassies and consulates abroad calling them to send back to Athens any cash reserves that they have not used as well as revenues from consular operations. The money should be sent directly to tax offices. The -frankly- surprise move comes in time when negotiations between Greece and its creditors have brought so far no results and money and the country is struggling to pay wages and pensions by end of the month.
According to online edition of To Vima newspaper, the revenues from visas issuing and other actions were partly counterbalanced with the operating expenses of the diplomatic missions, while a percentage would return to the Foreign Ministry and not to the tax offices.
According to To Vima that has obtained the government document sent to the Greek diplomatic missions abroad, the money reserves asked to be return would cover mainly expenses for cleaning material, stationery etc for the running two months.
Senior diplomats say that this has never happened before and stress that this would cause problems to the daily operation of the diplomatic missions. The latter because revenues would allow the diplomatic mission to counterbalance them with their expenses and funding.
The measure is expected to affect not only consulates with high revenues due to visas but also small diplomatic missions without revenues.
“This is because, until recently when an embassy had no money, it sought and received remittance from another embassy of Greece without any transfer of money via Athens,” notes To Vima, adding that the new situation will increase the fees for bank transfers.
Last month, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras ordered public institutions and local governments to move their funds to the central bank in an effort that Greece remains afloat, as the negotiations between Greece and its creditors had brought no result and bailout funds.
PS a kind advise: do not be shocked when you see dirty stairs next time you enter Embassy X or Consulate Y or you receive an invitation to a party not with an envelope but via e-mail only.