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Tsakalotos: "The agreement is completed, theres white smoke"

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The meeting between the Greek government and its lenders ended in the early hours on Tuesday with an agreement on outstanding issues.

"The negotiation is completed, theres white smoke", Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said coming out of the meeting at a central hotel in Athens.

He noted that the agreement reached was "a preliminary technical one" that will open the way to talks on the debt and the staff level agreement.

Tsakalotos expressed his belief that the agreement on the debt would move ahead now because there is no impediment to the completion of the second review such as a lack of agreement.

The meeting began late on Monday afternoon after the lenders produced the final drafts of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and the Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies (MEFP). The MoU is the agreement that will be signed with the European institutions and the MEFP will be signed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The outstanding issues discussed were of both major and minor importance, including the pension system, privatisations, retail markets and the public sector.

He added that the government will start working at all levels for the implementation of the programme as of Wednesday. I am sure that the discussions on debt will now begin, he said, because they cannot claim anymore that there is no agreement on the measures and the offset measures.

As he explained, there were compromises from both sides during the negotiations adding that "we are pleased with some things, and we are less pleased with others."

One of the positive measures, he stated, is that they did not ask for additional measures in 2018. According to the minister, the issue of primary surpluses after 2018 is in parenthesis in both texts.

Rgarding the tax free threshold to be implemened in the package of measures for 2020, it will range between 5,700-6,600 euros, according to finance ministrys sources.

The same sources said that the draft bills for the agreement and the measures-offset measures will be tabled in parliament next week, so that they are voted on May 13.
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