Mercoledì, 17 Ottobre 2018
ROME

Monti responds after FT piece says not right man for premier

English
© ANSA

Rome, January 22 - Outgoing Premier Mario Monti has
written to the Financial Times to respond after an opinion piece
in the London paper argued he was not the right man to lead
Italy for the next five years.
The article by columnist Wolfgang Munchau said that Monti,
who was appointed 14 months ago to head an unelected technocrat
government when the financial crisis forced Silvio Berlusconi to
resign as premier, had failed to make the promised reforms and
instead only raised taxes.
The former European commissioner, who is standing for
office at next month's elections on a reform platform backed by
several centrist parties, said that the piece overlooked what
his government had achieved in an emergency situation.
"In November 2011 Italy was close to being shut out from
the financial markets," he wrote.
"Reducing the financing needs in this case was an
imperative, and could be done only by raising taxes, which to a
large extent had been decided but not implemented by the
previous government".
Monti said that the reforms his government had introduced
to bring down prices and create more jobs in the service sector
were "without precedent for such a short period of time and
given the lack of a genuine majority in parliament".
"Italy's markets are now as open as the EU average, in some
cases more, according to the OECD," he added.
"It estimates the reforms will have lifted Italy's economic
growth potential by at least 4% of gross domestic product by
2020. But the job is not over and could easily be undone. This
is why I have entered the political arena".
Monti also hit back at Munchau's claim that European
Central Bank President Mario Draghi deserved more credit for the
easing of pressure on Italy's borrowing costs after Draghi
committing the central bank to buying the bonds of countries
caught up in the eurozone crisis if necessary.
The premier said this would not have been possible if Italy
had not first put its economic house in order and also pushed
for political backing for the ECB's bond-buying policy at a
crunch European summit on the debt crisis last June.
"Without fiscal consolidation and reforms in a crucial
country such as Italy, and without our leadership and
determination leading to the June summit, it is doubtful the
European Central Bank would have felt comfortable in saying and
doing what it did afterwards, which was indeed crucial," Monti
wrote.
The FT seemed to highlight that Munchau's piece featured
his own personal opinions by subsequently printing an editorial
on Italy's election.
In it the FT said both Monti and centre-left leader Pier
Luigi Bersani, a former minister, had the "personal credibility"
to govern Italy but said they had to give a clearer outline of
the direction they wanted to take the country.
"During his time in government, Mr Bersani passed many
reforms, including liberalising the legal professions and
pharmacy shops," read the editorial
"Mr Monti, meanwhile, is trusted both by investors and
Italy's eurozone allies.
"However, neither leader has yet to set out a convincing
economic vision for the country.
"The Democrat leader has to prove he will not be taken
hostage by the left wing of his party, which opposes reforms to
an inefficient labour market. Mr Monti is right to argue for tax
cuts but must spell out where he will find the savings needed to
deliver them".
The paper was scornful of three-time premier Berlusconi,
who is leading the centre right's campaigning but has said he
will be economy minister if his coalition wins, not the head of
government.
It said the 76-year-old media magnate was not a
"trustworthy leader" and lacked a "credible economic programme",
describing him as a "plutocrat-cum-politician who is planning a
comeback after taking his country to the edge of the fiscal
precipice".
"Some elements of his election manifesto, such as steep
cuts to government spending that would finance a reduction in
business taxes, are sensible in principle," the editorial said.
"But we have heard it all before. In his nine years in
power, Mr Berlusconi, the laughing cavalier, promised much but
delivered nothing. Italians should not be beguiled again".

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