Domenica, 21 Ottobre 2018
ROME

Berlusconi campaigns against high taxes in Italy

English
© ANSA

Rome, February 12 - Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi on
Tuesday pledged to reduce the tax burden in Italy in a bid to
lead the centre right to victory in general elections on
February 24 and 25.
"Everyone knows we think it is possible and necessary to
reduce public spending in order to reduce fiscal pressure," the
three-time premier told a forum organized by ANSA. "Our aim is
to reduce tax pressure by one percentage point a year and public
spending by two," with a possible savings of 16 billion euros a
year, he said.
Berlusconi added that his coalition intends to introduce
just two income-tax brackets instead of the present five in the
event of election victory as part of efforts to shift the tax
burden "from people to things".
The centre right also plans to scrap the regional business
tax IRAP entirely over four years, he said.
A series of tax promises and a recent media blitz by
Berlusconi has allowed his centre-right coalition to narrow the
gap with the centre-left coalition led by Democratic Party (PD)
Secretary Pier Luigi Bersani, still the frontrunner as of last
Friday when the last opinion polls to be published before the
elections were released.
On Tuesday he continued his campaign assault on taxes,
arguing that high rates in Italy were literally killing people
as they were causing members of the business community to commit
suicide.
"Some entrepreneurs have taken their lives because they
could not find the money to pay the taxes," Berlusconi told
ANSA.
Outgoing Premier Mario Monti's emergency technocrat
government introduced a series of tax hikes as part of austerity
measures to steer Italy out of its debt crisis.
Monti is standing for office on a reform platform backed by
centrist parties.
With just over 13% of projected votes, Monti's coalition
has said it will support any party, right or left, if it upholds
the reform policies his government has implemented since
replacing Berlusconi at the peak of the euro crisis near the end
of 2011.
United States Ambassador to Italy David Thorne told Italian
media Monday that a center-left government would be desirable in
Italy, a prospect which Berlusconi dismissed Thursday.
"I have never taken ambassadors' opinions 100% seriously"
because it was the US government's view that counted, he said,
citing "extremely close" ties to presidents George W. Bush and
Barack Obama.
He also shot down claims that he lacks credibility among
European leaders.
It is "the thing that makes me most angry, that appears
furthest from reality," he told ANSA.
"Instead I am very credible within the European Union".
The three-time premier drew criticism from the European
establishment particularly in the final stages of his last term
in office as Italy's debt crisis threatened to spiral out of
control, and he was replaced by Monti, a respected economist and
former EU commissioner for competition.
There is also footage of him in which he appears to be
shunned by fellow participants at international summits.
According to an average of polls, Berlusconi's center-right
coalition is roughly 3.5% behind the center left.

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