Lunedì, 24 Settembre 2018

Letta says government in race against time


(By Denis Greenan).
Rome, May 2 - Premier Enrico Letta said Thursday
his unprecedented right-left government was racing against time
to cut Italy's "unbearable" tax burden and stoke growth while
maintaining fiscal discipline.
In talks with Organisation for Economic Cooperation and
Development chief Angel Gurria in Rome, Letta also said Italy
would help the EU fight "nightmarish" youth unemployment.
"The government is in a race against time," he said in Rome
ahead of his meeting with Gurria, after returning from a tour of
European leaders.
"We've already wasted too much and the others aren't
waiting for us.
"There are complex decisions ahead of us and we have to
take them with determination because there are international
targets we have to measure up to in an major way".
He said Italy would abide by its deficit and
debt-reduction commitments to the European Union after meeting
European Commission President Jose' Manuel Barroso earlier on
Letta saw Barroso at the end of a European tour in which he
called for the bloc to put as much emphasis on promoting growth
as it has on fiscal consolidation so far during the eurozone
"I confirmed to Barroso that the intention is to maintain
the commitments taken with the Commission by the previous
government," said Letta, who met French President Francois
Hollande on Wednesday and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on
After his meeting with Gurria, Letta said Italy and the OECD
would set up a task force to hatch ideas for the European Union
to fight youth unemployment.
The Italian premier said it would be a "joint working group
between the OECD, the premier's office and the economy ministry
to come up with ideas" on youth unemployment for the EU summit
on June 27-28.
Fighting youth unemployment in recession-hit Italy and the
rest of the EU is a "categorical imperative", he said.
"It is literally the nightmare that is gripping our society,
our families," said the premier.
New data this week showing unemployment at a record high of
12.1% or 19 million people out of work in the 17-nation
eurozone offered frightening new figures on youth unemployment.
One out of four under-25s was on the dole in the EU in March
but almost two in three in Greece and Spain and nearly four out
of 10 in Italy.
Letta added that growth is not an alternative to
fiscal discipline.
"I think there is a need, together with maintaining our
commitments, for a strong policy promoting jobs and growth",
Letta said. "I think this part needs to be implemented now: it
is not an alternative to rigour".
The Italian premier also said "it would be an important
signal to set aside the ideological debate at the European level
concerning austerity and rigour and take concrete action",
starting with youth unemployment.
Letta said Italy's taxes are "unbearably" high and need to
be cut without loosening EU-mandated targets.
"Italy has a tax burden which is absolutely unsustainable,"
Letta said. "The burden needs to be lightened without loosening
tax regulations".
In the joint press conference with Gurria, Letta again
stressed the need "to make up for the time lost" between
elections at the end of February and the formation of the
government which was sworn in on Sunday.
"The moment has come to make up for lost time," he said.
"I tried to meet in just a few hours as many people as
possible to try and understand what margins we have for action".
Asked about about the "corrective measures" to cover tax
cuts, he said: "We will decide together as a majority".
"For example," - he continued - "I agreed with President
Hollande yesterday that the problem of the tax wedge (the gap
between employers' labour costs and workers' take-home pay)
exists in both Italy and France".
Gurria said Italy is already seeing "the light at
the end of the tunnel" of the economic crisis.
He said that "an enormous effort" was being made to restore
health to Italy's public finances which "must be consolidated".
Cutting taxes "is a concern for all", Gurria also said, and
in particular the cost of labour needs to be addressed ahead of
tax cuts for companies.
The OECD secretary-general said that in order to do this,
action needed to focus on VAT, real estate and the
development of the green economy.
On the thorny issue of property-tax IMU, the OECD risked
irking ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL)
party by saying Thursday that scrapping it should not be a
priority for the new government.
The PdL is threatening to pull its support from Letta's
executive and sink it unless the widely despised tax is
Berlusconi also wants the 2012 revenues collected from IMU
returned to taxpayers to respect the key pledge he made in the
run-up to February's general election.
Letta, a member of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD)
that had been in bitter combat with the PdL for two decades
before the inconclusive election result forced them to form an
unnatural alliance, has said that June's IMU payments would be
suspended as part of a review of the tax.
But he has not promised to abolish it completely.

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