Lunedì, 24 Settembre 2018
ROME

Berlusconi's party at odds with govt over taxes

English
© ANSA

(By Paul Virgo)
Rome, June 14 - Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's
People of Freedom (PdL) party was at odds with the left-right
government it is sustaining over tax policy on Friday.
On Thursday Economy Minister Fabrizio Saccomanni said it
was not possible to avert a 1% rise in the top rate of value
added tax and also have the cash to be able to scrap an
unpopular property tax called IMU.
But on Friday he was contradicted by Deputy Premier and
Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, who is also the PdL secretary
of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom.
"We are fighting and we will fight to eliminate IMU on
people's main residences and to avoid the VAT increase," said
Alfano.
"It's not a whim, it's an objective we have set ourselves".
The PdL has threatened to pull its support and sink Premier
Enrico Letta's broad coalition government if it fails to scrap
IMU and refund the revenues raised from it in 2012 to respect
the key pledge Berlusconi made in the run-up to February's
inconclusive general election.
But the centre-right party also wants the rise in the top
band of VAT, from 21% to 22%, that was put in place by former
premier Mario Monti's technocrat administration dropped amid
fears it will further depress weak consumer spending and deepen
the country's longest recession in over 20 years.
"The resources will be found," said former civil service
minister Renato Brunetta, the PdL's Lower House whip.
"VAT will not increase and IMU on people's main residences
will be eliminated.
"We are sure Letta will respect his commitments and he will
speak to clarify this issue".
Letta, a member of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD)
who was sworn in as premier in April after two months of
post-election deadlock, suspended the June instalment of IMU and
has promised to reform the tax before September.
He has not pledged to scrap it in public, although PdL
members have said that he promised them he would do so.
Letta did not comment directly on the VAT furore on Friday
but he stressed that sometimes governments had to take unpopular
decisions.
"It is necessary to have the courage to tell the people the
truth and explain with simplicity what can be done and what
can't be done, because often you have to say more 'nos' than
'yeses'," Letta said.
Saccomanni said Thursday that eliminating IMU and dropping
the VAT rise would leave the government needing to find at least
eight billion euros.
The minister said this "would force compensatory measures
of extreme severity, which at the moment is preposterous".
He also suggested the government's priority should be
reducting labour taxes to help reduce unemployment, which has
reached a record high of 12%, with around four out of 10 young
people aged 15-to-24 out of work.
This position won backing from Giorgio Squinzi, the
president of industrial employers' confederation Confindustria.
"The priority is not VAT or IMU, it's the cost of labour,"
Squinzi said.
However, the leader of Italy's biggest trade union, the
left-wing CGIL, and two consumers' associations on Friday spoke
out against the planned increase in VAT.
"I think the right way to go for the country is to say the
VAT increase will be halted and the necessary resources will be
found to change IMU," said GCIL chief Susanna Camusso.
"This is necessary to defend the weakest''.
Consumers' groups Federconsumatori and Abusbef also said it
was "fundamental" to avoid the VAT increase, stressing it would
have ''dramatic consequences'' for families, entrepreneurs and
retailers.

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