Domenica, 23 Settembre 2018
ROME

Letta eyes minister salaries cut, property tax

English
© ANSA

(By Denis Greenan).
Rome, May 9 - Premier Enrico Letta was set to send
a signal to voters unhappy with political perks by scrapping
double pay for ministers at his first real cabinet meeting
Thursday.
He was also seeking to grasp the nettle of a crucial
property-tax issue threatening his new and unprecedented
left-right coalition, but continued wrangling on this
contentious point delayed the start of the meeting.
In the first move, aimed at easing anger behind a protest
vote that propelled anti-establishment comedian Beppe Grillo's
5-Star Movement into third place in parliament, Letta said his
executive would scrap the system in which cabinet members get
two salaries, one for being a minister and one for being a
lawmaker.
"The money generated will go to protect those who have lost
their jobs".
The property tax, IMU, was much the more important issue,
however.
It has been at the centre of a furore that threatened to
sink Democratic Party (PD) deputy head Letta's fledgling
executive.
Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi has said his People of Freedom
(PdL) party would pull its support from the government unless
the widely despised tax was abolished.
Berlusconi also wants the 2012 revenues collected from IMU
returned to taxpayers to respect a key pledge he made in the
run-up to February's inconclusive general election.
Letta had said that June's IMU payments would be suspended
as part of a review of the tax, but he did not promise to
abolish it completely.
Going into the cabinet meeting, PD sources said June's
payment would be put off until September, but only on primary
residences.
This was apparently not enough to please the PdL cabinet
members including its secretary, Deputy Premier and Interior
Minister Angelino Alfano, who huddled with Letta and Economy
Minister Fabrizio Saccomanni before the cabinet met, pushing
back its start from five o'clock to beyond seven o'clock.
"There are still many uncertainties," political sources
said.
Italian industrial employers' confederation Confindustria
and the OECD have said reducing labour taxes to help fight
record levels of unemployment should be a higher priority for
Letta's government than scrapping IMU.
Another urgent measure the cabinet was poised to take was
to stop the budget for CIG unemployment benefits running dry
amid soaring demand as the recession continues to bite.
Political sources said before the cabinet meeting that the
postponement of June's IMU payment and the refinancing of the
CIG budget would be put into a single decree.
To cement government cohesion and try make a definitive
deal over IMU, Letta called a summit of his executive for
Friday.
The government is also set to bond and build team-skills in
an upcoming soccer-style 'retreat' at a Tuscan monastery this
weekend.
Letta and his team will take a coach to the abbey near Pisa
on Sunday.
Berlusconi saw a four-year sentence for tax fraud and
five-year ban from public office upheld on appeal Wednesday and
is on trial for paying for sex with a minor but has stressed his
legal cases will not affect government stability.
He is also facing indictment for bribing a Senator to
switch sides but any sentences would only become effective after
the second and last level of appeal in Italy's legal system,
designed to heighten both defence and prosecution rights after
the summary justice of the Fascist era.
The government of strange bedfellows was formed two months
after the virtual three-way tie that saw the PD get a majority
in the House but not the equally powerful Senate, the PdL come
second, and M5S a close third.
The PD unsuccessfully tried to form a coalition with Grillo
before eventually teaming up with their old enemy Berlusconi on
the insistence of President Giorgio Napolitano, re-elected to
break the impasse and a PD internal rebellion that forced leader
Pier Luigi Bersani to quit.
M5S is refusing to work with the PD or PdL, seeing them as
equally culpable in a corrupt and dysfunctional system Grillo
has successfully fulminated against, catching the mood of many
voters.

© Riproduzione riservata

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