Lunedì, 22 Ottobre 2018
ROME

Letta sets agenda, bids to ease govt tensions

English
© ANSA

(By Kate Carlisle) Rome, May 13 - Four issues will top
the government's agenda in its first 100 days in office, Premier
Enrico Letta said after a 24-hour bonding and planning 'retreat'
in a Tuscan abbey Monday.
The issues are: creating jobs for young people; agreeing on
changes to the IMU property tax which ex-premier Silvio
Berlusconi wants scrapped and rebated; tax breaks to encourage
entrepreneurs; and political reforms to cut spending and abuse
which have created widespread public disenchantment.
He also said Italy needed to change its electoral law and
strip the Senate of law-making powers, turning it into a
regional assembly, to avoid gridlock like the two-month
stalemate that followed February's inconclusive general
election.
A special body called a convention will be set up to agree
constitutional reforms and will be led by the House and Senate
Constitutional Affairs committee chiefs.
A panel of "external" experts to give the convention
reform proposals will be set up shortly.
Previous attempts to remove the powers of the Senate - at
present equally as powerful as the House - have foundered on the
upper house's reluctance to vote itself out of existence.
However, a huge justice row has overshadowed Letta's
attempts to forge his disparate cabinet into a closely knit unit
with the ministers' retreat.
Letta, who was sworn in at the helm of an unprecedented
left-right coalition government 15 days ago, cobbled together
the abbey retreat to loosen knots and strengthen bonds in an
executive spanning his own centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and
ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) Party,
long foes until Italy's post-election stalemate forced them to
become strange bedfellows.
Letta and members of his centre-left Democratic Party are
furious that PdL ministers took part in a demonstration in
Brescia on Saturday against alleged persecution by some
magistrates of 76-year-old ex-premier Berlusconi.
The rally, which included the participation of Deputy
Premier and Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, was called after
a Milan court failed to overturn a four-year conviction
Berlusconi was handed for fraud at his media empire.
"Occasions like Brescia are unacceptable," Letta's
spokesman said Sunday on the first day of the retreat.
"They cannot be repeated because the negative effects are
greater than the government's ability to stay together.
"Letta has repeatedly said that he is not prepared to keep
the government going at any cost".
The row increased tensions within an alliance between two
parties that have long been fierce foes which were already high
following the Berlusconi's threats to sink the fledgling
executive unless it scraps a property tax called IMU and returns
revenues taken from it in 2012.
Letta has pledged to suspend June IMU payments but has not
said he will abolish the tax completely.
Letta said the cabinet will make a decision on IMU on
Friday.
The PdL said there was nothing wrong with ministers taking
part in Saturday's rally.
"The PdL won't bring down its banners and hide its
identity," said Alfano's spokeswoman.
"It will remain by Berlusconi's side".
Stopping ministers from taking part in electoral rallies or
televised debates not connected with their portfolios was
proposed by Letta as a sensible way to prevent tensions within
his left-right government exploding.
Letta said that the proposal to limit ministers' public
appearances was "a decision of good sense to resolve the
problems that exist and which cannot be solved with a magic
wand. We need rules".
He added that the new government "should do a job that is
based as much as possible on a language of frankness and
reciprocal respect".
"There are problems but the government does not intend to
be overwhelmed by them. We are working on the country's problems
for the good of the entire nation," Alfano said in a joint press
conference with Letta on Monday.

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