Domenica, 23 Settembre 2018

Monti bids to cut sleaze after spending scandals


(ANSA) - Rome, October 5 - Premier Mario Monti on Wednesday
night vowed to cut the cost and number of local officials across
Italy in response to a wave of public-spending scandals he said
had left the Italian public "stunned and indignant".
Unveiling a decree that would cut the number of regional
councillors by 35%, Monti cited widespread "dismay at incidents
that undermine the faith and reputation of the country and its
credibility abroad".
Recent sleaze cases, culminating in a scandal that forced
the governor of Lazio to step down, risked defeating "the
efforts we are all making to ensure Italy's role is fully
recognised at the international level," Monti said.
The exposure of graft and pork-barrel politics on such a
scale wreaked "incalculable damage" on Italy's image.
Local bodies who do not stay in line with budgets will face
central-government funding cuts of 80%, Monti said.
Mayors who do not keep their accounts in order will not be
allowed to stand again, the premier said.
The pay of local and regional councillors will be cut to
the level of the best-behaved region, while stipends will be
eliminated and all local officials will have to make public, and
have certified by the Audit Court, the money they get.
The pension age of local officials will be raised from 50
to 66, Monti said.
The government planned to change Article V of the
Constitution to recalibrate the way the State and Regions spend
money to avoid waste, he added.
The tipping point in public indignation with political
corruption came last month when Franco Fiorito, caucus leader
for ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party
in the Lazio region, was alleged to have skimmed off thousands
of euros of public money for personal use.
The case of Fiorito, who was arrested earlier this week,
caused the PdL's Renata Polverini to step down as governor of
Lazio last week.
The investigation is only one of a series of recent
corruption scandals that have hit various parts of Italy's
political spectrum, sparking condemnation from Italian President
Giorgio Napolitano and the Catholic Church.
Experts say the scandals have also strengthened widespread
public disaffection with the nation's political class and
contributed to the rise of comedian Beppe Grillo's grassroots
Five Star movement, which is opposed to the present party
The Five Star movement is vying with the PdL for second
place in the polls, behind the runaway leader, the centre-left
Democratic Party, according to several surveys.
Monti insisted Wednesday night that his technocratic
government, which will leave office in May, will do its utmost
to make sure political parties forge an effective
anti-corruption law, currently bogged down amid partisan
sparring in parliament.
"Scandals are part of an old Italy," he said.
"The fight against corruption should be part of the DNA of
all parties and I hope an accord is swiftly reached because it
is essential for the country"".

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