Martedì, 18 Settembre 2018
ROME

Letta pledges to revamp IMU by September

English
© ANSA

(By Christopher Livesay)
Rome, May 17 - Premier Enrico Letta's cabinet on
Friday approved a decree to suspend the June payment of the
controversial IMU property tax after weeks of threats from
ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi.
The reform will cover businesses as well as homes, Premier
Enrico Letta said, after Berlusconi threatened to pull the plug
on Letta's fledgling right-left government unless firms got IMU
breaks too.
Letta, from the center-left Democratic Party (PD), said the
reform showed his government had given its "first responses" to
"families, firms and workers".
The secretary of Berlusconi's center-right People of
Freedom (PdL), the other main party backing the government, said
he was "extremely satisfied" with its first move to reform the
tax.
"The government's first ball has scored," said Interior
Minister and Deputy Premier Angelino Alfano.
Berlusconi, who does not sit in government but carries
immense influence over center-right lawmakers, claimed victory
over the left in the reform battle, and recalled the PD losing
its lead in February general elections after the PdL campaigned
hard to eliminate IMU.
"The left was sure to win, and instead it now has to deal
with our agenda: IMU will be dropped and already by June will
not have to be paid," Berlusconi said.
Letta says suspending June IMU payments will buy time to
prepare a comprehensive review of the tax, but he has not said
it will be scrapped completely.
Before Friday's cabinet meeting, Letta warned that people
should not expect "miracles" from it, but said the measures it
approves should give the government 100 days to carry out key
economic reforms.
IMU was instituted among a series of austerity measures
under former premier Mario Monti's emergency technocrat
government to restore health to Italy's public finances drained
by the euro crisis, which helped bring down Berlusconi's
government at the end of 2011.
It has been widely criticised for being too high and
unfair, as it is levied at an equal rate per square metre on
owners of plush downtown apartments and on low-income families
with flats in the suburbs.
Abolishing IMU and reimbursing the 2012 revenues from it
would create a hole of around eight billion euros in this year's
budget.
"By August we must achieve a comprehensive reform of
property tax, including factories, otherwise the Letta
government will fall," former minister Renato Brunetta, the
PdL's House whip, said Thursday.
Letta's PD and the PdL are strange bedfellows who were
forced into an unlikely and some would say unnatural marriage by
President Giorgio Napolitano to end a two-month post-election
stalemate on April 30.
This was because no single coalition had enough sway in
parliament to govern alone after February's inconclusive general
election.
Another bone of contention between the coalition partners
is the PdL's attacks on allegedly leftwing parts of the
judiciary who they say are persecuting Berlusconi for political
motives, after the 76-year-old media magnata's many legal woes
worsened this month.
The PD's Senate whip inflamed the situation on Thursday by
suggesting a law that bans the holders of government licences,
like the ones Berlusconi has for his TV networks, should be
applied to make the three-time premier ineligible for public
office.
But Berlusconi sought to ease the tensions, calling off
scheduled appearances at a number of rallies for local elections
later this month and saying that "there is a good possibility
that this government can keep going".
The decree agreed Friday also featured measures to find one
billion euros to refinance the budget for CIG unemployment
benefits, which is danger of running out within months as
applications soar.

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