The cash-strapped Greek government has introduced a surcharge at cashpoints to prevent Greek citizens from withdrawing their cash. Government ministers told The Times they hope to raise €180 million, or €1 for every €1000 transaction, through the scheme, though they are yet to get European Central Bank approval for it to go ahead. A senior finance ministry official said: “The surcharge is just one of a grab-bag of measures we are considering if things get tough.” Withdrawals exceeded €15 billion in the run up to the February elections that catapulted Alexis Tsipras and the far-left Syriza government to power. Greek residents were reported to have stashed wads of money behind bathroom tiles and under floorboards.

In the economic uncertainty since, that total has been pushed to €28 billion withdrawn, taking cash revenue to a 10-year-low. The cashpoint plan surfaced on the same day the European Commission slashed Greece’s 2015 growth forecasts from 2.5 per cent to just 0.5 per cent , pushing the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio to 180 per cent. Greece is locked in bail-out talks with the European Union and must agree a set of reforms before further money can be released. MORE