Sabato, 20 Ottobre 2018

EC boosts Italy deficit fight with new data


(By Denis Greenan).
Rome, May 3 - The European Commission on Friday
boosted Italy's deficit fight with new figures showing it would
meet a key European Union-mandated target this year.
Italy's budget deficit will be 2.9% in 2013, the EC forecast
Friday, below the 3% limit set by EU treaties.
It will drop to 2.4% in 2014, the EC said, making it likely
that Italy will soon be cleared of busting deficit targets.
The new forecast "facilitates" the closure of a
deficit-infraction procedure but the Commission still needs to
see the details of the new government's deficit-curbing
measures, the EC said.
Brussels expects Economy Minister Fabrizio Saccomanni to
present that plan "in the next few weeks" so the issue can be
resolved at a June 27-28 summit.
Italy's bloated national debt is expected to exceed the 130%
threshold to reach 131.4% in 2013 and 132.2% in 2014, the EC
The EC previously forecast Italian sovereign debt reaching
128% in 2013 and 127% in 2014.
European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli
Rehn warned that Italy's sovereign debt is so high the country
must work on bringing accounts under control even after any
deficit reduction.
Rehn said Italy needed to regain competitiveness and
economic growth.
Italian Premier Enrico Letta has said his unprecedented
right-left government is 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 Thursday, Letta also said
Italy would help the EU fight "nightmarish" youth unemployment.
He said Italy would abide by its deficit and
debt-reduction commitments to the European Union after meeting
EC President Jose' Manuel Barroso.
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
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 stressed that growth is not an alternative to
"rigorous" budgetary consolidation.
"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".
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.
On the thorny issue of property-tax IMU, the OECD risked
irking ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL)
party by saying 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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