Domenica, 21 Ottobre 2018

Europe, conflict of interest, cuts, growth top Monti agenda


Rome, December 24 - Boosting growth along with
Europe, cutting taxes and political costs, and resolving the
conflict of interest that has dogged public life since media
magnate Silvio Berlusconi won power in 1994 were among the
priorities set by caretaker premier Mario Monti in an agenda he
posted on the Web Sunday after saying he might lead forces who
endorse it in Italy's upcoming general election.
Changing Italy, Reforming Europe was the title of the keenly
awaited agenda posted on the specially created site
It was accompanied by a letter to Italians in which the
economist and former European commissioner, credited with saving
Italy from a Greek-style crisis in a 13-month term dating from
Berlusconi's enforced resignation in November 2011 to
Berlusconi's withdrawal of support earlier this month, urged
political parties to follow up on the structural reforms his
emergency technocrat government achieved, including to the
pension system and in two other areas where his moves were
watered down: the labor market and deregulation.
He also called for a radical overhaul of Italy's expensive
political system and much-criticised electoral system as well as
stiffer protection against misuse of public funds, in the wake
of a string of scandals, in a manifesto whose slogan was 'Less
Caste, Fewer Costs'.
Here are the main points of the agenda, which also proposes
a minimum wage and a tax on large portfolios of property and
- EUROPE: Monti underscores the need to build a "more
integrated" European Union, "against all populism" and with
"more solidarity" between stronger and weaker members.
Italy "must fight for a more inter-governmental, more united
Europe" and against members making moves "at various speeds".
To count more in Europe and boost Rome's credibility, he
stresses, "there is no need to bang the table". With this
approach, he says, Italy can ask Europe for more
"growth-oriented policies" after the austerity that is improving
finances but deepening recessions in Greece, Spain, Italy and
other peripheral members.
- GROWTH: Growth cannot be achieved by increasing Italy's
public debt, which at 126% of GDP is the second highest in the
eurozone after Greece's. Monti reiterates the goal of balancing
the budget in structural terms in 2013 and cutting debt by one
twentieth per year starting in 2015.
- TAXES: Cutting debt "makes it possible to cut taxes" on
labour and business. Levies on large property and asset
portfolios and luxury goods will help balance the books.
- DEREGULATION: Monti, a pro-competition trust-buster during
his time at the European commission, urges further moves to
"intensify the opening of markets" and make the civil service
more efficient by better-targeted spending. Spending reviews
must become permanent.
- BUSINESS: Negotiation of labour contracts must become
"decentralised" and no longer confined to deals at the national
level. Energy costs must be cut and firms' access to credit
facilitated. The level of foreign investment in Italy must be
raised to the EU average.
- LABOUR: The Monti government's reforms to the labour market
to make hiring and firing easier must be preserved, and improved
by further simplification and concentrating on getting young
people working, with incentives for employers who hire
- FIGHT AGAINST POVERTY: Monti envisages "minimum" benefits for
job seekers or those who have lost their jobs as long as they
take training courses.
- ELECTORAL LAW: the "first act" of the next parliament must be
a reform of the electoral law to allow voters to pick their MPs
rather than voting candidates selected by party bosses.
- 'THE CASTE': With the slogan, 'less caste, fewer costs,'
Monti proposes a drastic reduction of public funding to parties
and caucuses, with an obligation to have transparent budgets and
a ceiling on private contributions.
- TAX EVASION AND CORRUPTION: "Zero tolerance for corruption,
tax evasion and off-the-books activities". Monti advocates
stiffening laws on fraudulent accounting and beefing up
punishment for bribery and corruption. The statute of
limitations on these crimes should be shortened.
- CONFLICT OF INTEREST: Monti calls for "more robust norms to
prevent conflicts of interest"
laws passed by his government, preventing those with definitive
convictions of two years or more from standing for office, must
be strengthened with "more stringent" norms.

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