Martedì, 23 Ottobre 2018
ROME

Government set to grab IMU nettle

English
© ANSA

(By Kate Carlisle)
Rome, July 4 - A solution for the unpopular
property tax called IMU will be hammered out by the summer
recess that starts August 15, Italian government sources said
during coalition meetings on Thursday.
The property tax has been one of the most divisive issues
plaguing Premier Enrico Letta's creatively cobbled, right-left
coalition, merged together from opposing parties.
Letta called a meeting for members of his coalition
Thursday to discuss key reforms and to attempt to smooth over
internal battles threatening to destabilize his unprecedented
left-right government.
Letta, who was sworn in on April 28 at the helm of a broad
coalition government, has vowed to lift Italy out of its longest
recession since World War II.
But many of his efforts have been hampered by divisions
between his Democratic Party (PD) and ex-premier Silvio
Berlusconi's People of Freedom Party (PdL).
IMU has been at the top of the list of contentious issues
as its elimination was used as a bargaining card by the PdL for
joining arms with sworn enemies the PD and forming an executive
after two months of a stalemate that left Italy hanging without
a government.
The PdL's fervent demand to scrap the loathed property tax
has even spurred into threats of the party pulling its support
and sinking the government if it fails.
Letta's predecessor Mario Monti said Sunday that his small
Civic Choice party would also withdraw its support for the
government if it fails to move up a gear.
Unlike Berlusconi's PdL, Monti's party is not big enough
to sink the administration, but the threat is seen as indicative
of its problems.
But Letta said following Thursday's government meetings
that relations were "good" and that he had reiterated to his
coalition a "commitment for greater involvement of all parties".
Another key issue central to Thursday's talks, provincial
administrations that are widely seen as an unnecessary and
expensive layer of administration, ended with the government
vowing to do away with them.
Eliminating the provinces would leave the central
government to deal with the regions and municipalities without
having to go through the provincial level, cutting costs and red
tape.
Italians voted to drop provincial governments in a recent
referendum but the Constitutional Court last month ruled it was
against Italy's Constitution to scrap them.
Letta's government has pledged to cut political spending
in the face of widespread voter ire over pork-barrel scandals
that produced a huge protest vote in February's general
election.
Following Thursday's meetings, Letta said that the
government would present a bill to change the Constitution to
remove provincial governments.
Skeptics claim the savings from the move will be less than
hoped and provincial workers will have to find jobs elsewhere in
the civil service.
Another crucial topic looming for Letta's executive is the
repayment of tens of billions of euros' worth of the public
administration's overdue bills to private businesses.
Early last month, the Lower House passed a bill approving
payments on outstanding debts to businesses.
The bill should allow the government to pay up to 40
billion euros in overdue bills by the end of next year.
Repaying the debts has been seen as an important tool in
providing the recession-plagued economy with a shot-in-the-arm
of liquidity.
Italy's industrial association Confindustria has issued
several loud calls for payment on the overdue bills to help
relieve the credit crunch that has been strangling Italian
businesses, and claims that the real total owed is actually well
over 100 billion euros.
Unblocking the public administration's payment of some 40
billion euros overdue to its suppliers was a goal set by the
former technocrat government led by Monti.
Letta confirmed his commitment to do so at Thursday's
summit.

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