Tsakalotos: There is will to achieve staff-level agreement as soon as possible

Greece and its creditors have the will to achieve a staff-level agreement as soon as possible and within the timetable, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) in an interview on Sunday.

“There are many issues that need a lot of technical work and therefore this takes some time, but I believe the will that exists to finish in time will allow us to have a deal on a technical level as soon as possible and within the timetable,” he told ANA.

Asked about whether Greece will achieve a “clean” exit from its bailout program in August 2018, the minister said the government is doing all it can to achieve it.

“We are doing everything we can for a ‘clean’ exit. We are working to complete the reviews in a timely manner, we have a program to tap the markets, we are building reserves for the post-memorandum era, we intervene in European institutions for a more favorable European architecture and many more,” he said, adding the government is simultaneously trying to keep society on its feet.

“This is apparent from the continuous drop in unemployment, the creation of a better framework for employees, the benefits for vulnerable groups, the building of the welfare state. The good news is that more and more ‘players’, the Eurogroup institutions and countries, are oriented towards a favorable exit from the memorandum,” he added.

Commenting on the revelations made in the Paradise Papers, he said the main issue that emerges is not the illegal acts of tax evasion but the fact that the largest part of these billions are there legally.
“Therefore the cynicism of the ruling classes and the parties that support them is that they’ve built a system where the rich have full protection from the institutional framework, can legally be exempt from taxation and operate with different rules from the rest,” he said.

“This is what the middle class must know: that have we have higher taxation but less hospitals and school as a result of this fact. So, when the middle class hears New Democracy and PASOK and the similar parties worldwide saying that the middle class is suffering from over-taxation, or from the wasteful state, they must know that pure hypocrisy,” he added.