THESSALONIKI, Greece — Panagiotis Papadopoulos, the owner of a Greek company that builds and exports glass products like shower cabins, has been waiting three weeks to pay a supplier in Bulgaria.

It’s not that he doesn’t have the $49,000 or doesn’t want to pay. It’s that he first needs the approval of a committee run by the finance ministry in Athens.

Any business that wants to pay a foreign supplier needs this approval because the government is worried about money flowing out of the country due to its financial crisis. The process has created an administrative bottleneck that is causing huge pain for Greek companies already struggling through recession.

“They are dealing with a huge volume of requests,” Papadopoulos said of the committee, during a visit Friday to his factory outside the northern city of Thessaloniki.

Greece’s restrictions on money transfers and withdrawals have cut the amount of business done by small and medium sized firms by about half, with three in 10 businesses suffering a drop of more than 70 percent, according to a survey published this week by the national trading association GSEVEE.

The problem appears particularly acute in northern Greece, where thousands of firms have applied to move to neighboring Bulgaria to avoid the problem and benefit from much lower tax rates.

More than 2,500 businesses moved to Bulgaria in the last two years, according to the national traders’ association. Now, about 60,000 more businesses have filed applications to set up in Bulgaria, though that figure includes firms looking to create subsidiaries.

Months of uncertainty surrounding Greece’s new bailout deal, the banking restrictions and a new round of government budget savings have pushed Greece back into recession – but the extent of the downturn will largely depend on how quickly business can return to normal.

There were some signs of hope before the banking restrictions kicked in: unemployment fell in May to 25 percent from 27 the previous year.