Greece: Government's emergency seizure of local government reserves sparks fury

Greece's government has issued an emergency decree ordering municipal authorities to turn their reserves over to the central bank for use as short-term financing, sparking anger among local government leaders.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has ordered the confiscation of both local and central government reserves held in commercial banks in a move expected to raise up to €2bn (£1.4bn) for investing in short-term state debt, according to sources quoted by the Chicago Tribune.

The money is needed to pay a €770m instalment owed to the International Monetary Fund on 12 May - and to cover wages due at the end of the month, the sources said.

An official decree posted on the Greek government's website on 20 April states that the "regulation is submitted due to extremely urgent and unforeseen needs".

But the decision has been condemned by many city leaders.

"It is a politically and institutionally unacceptable decision," said Giorgos Patoulis, mayor of Marousi and president of the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece.

"No government to date has dared to touch the money of municipalities."

George Papanikolaou, mayor of Glyfada, said the decision to seize reserves "not only raises legal and constitutional issues, but also a moral one".

"We have a responsibility to serve our citizens," Papanikolaou he told the Tribune.