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    Jul 02, 2015

    Elderly Greeks queue for cash as PM offers plan


    IN CHAOTIC scenes, thousands of angry elderly Greeks yesterday besieged the nation's crisis-hit banks, which have reopened to allow them to withdraw vital cash from their state pensions.

    "Let them go to hell!" said one pensioner waiting to get his money, after failed talks between Athens and international creditors sparked a weeklong banking shutdown.

    The Greek government, which closed the banks and imposed strict capital controls after cash machines ran dry, has temporarily reopened almost 1,000 branches to allow pensioners without cards to withdraw 120 euros (S$180) to last the rest of the week.

    The move has again sparked lengthy queues at banks across Greece - and outrage from many retirees, who are regarded as among the most vulnerable in society, exposed to a vicious and lengthy economic downturn.

    "I took the money out. I know that this is not enough, but that's what I could take and so I took it," said Dyonisia Zafiropoulou, a former employee of the national electricity company DEI.

    She said she was convinced Greece could weather the financial crisis. "I lived during the occupation, I experienced hardship and I think we will overcome this moment," she said.

    Under banking restrictions imposed all week, Greeks can withdraw up to 60 euros a day for each credit or debit card - but many among the elderly population do not have cards.

    Another customer, a retired mariner who asked not to be named, told Agence France-Presse that he had no cash to buy crucial medicine for his sick wife.

    "I worked for 50 years at sea and now I am the beggar for 120 euros," he said.

    "I took out 120 euros - but I have no money for medication for my wife, who had an operation and is ill," he added.

    Meanwhile, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras made a fresh reform proposal to euro-zone ministers yesterday, after Greece became the first advanced economy to default on an International Monetary Fund (IMF) payment.

    Euro-zone ministers were to consider the latest gambit by the leftist Premier in a conference call yesterday, even as debt-stricken Greece's creditors poured cold water on the latest plan.

    German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble effectively ruled out all negotiations, saying that no Greece deal was possible before Sunday's Greek referendum on bailout terms.

    The Greek proposal was sent by Mr Tsipras to heads of the institutions that have overseen Greece's two bailouts worth 240 billion euros since 2010, just as the European part of the European Union-IMF bailout expired.