Venerdì, 19 Ottobre 2018

Letta sees solid govt future after IMU deal


(By Christopher Livesay)
Rome, August 29 - Italian Premier Enrico Letta
said the future looked bright for the left-right government now
that a controversy over a property tax was behind him, despite
ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's ongoing legal and political woes.
"I am not afraid that there will be an influence on the
life of the government...due to the convictions or legal
proceedings (of Berlusconi)," Letta told Italian radio.
Berlusconi's supporters have threatened to pull their
support and topple the government if the Senate votes next month
to ratify stripping the three-time premier of his Senate seat,
an anti-corruption penalty that kicked in following his
first-ever binding criminal conviction on August 1 for tax fraud
at his Mediaset media empire.
But Letta appeared relieved following a deal forged
Wednesday between his centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and his
government coalition partners, Berlusconi's center-right People
of Freedom (PdL) party, over reforming the IMU real-estate tax.
The agreement, which reforms IMU under the umbrella term
"service tax" and exempts most sections of society, ends months
of partisan quarreling and threats from the PdL to bring down
the government if the tax stayed in place.
By campaigning hard against IMU, Berlusconi and the PdL
roared to a surprising second in February elections, ultimately
securing a junior partnership in the government where their
influence has proved considerable following the latest accord.
"Now we can look towards the future of the government with
much more confidence," Letta said Wednesday.
But a final hurdle in the form of the value added tax (VAT)
may still remain.
Deputy Economy Minister Stefano Fassina said Thursday that
the IMU reform will force an "irreparable" hike in VAT scheduled
October 1 due to a subsequent multi-billion-euro revenue hole.
Early last month, Economy Minister Fabrizio Saccomanni
sparked the ire of the PdL when he said that the government
would be "hard-pressed" to find the money to cover repealing IMU
and still afford not raising VAT by 1% in the top rate, from 21%
to 22%.
Doing both, he said, would make it difficult to stick to
Italy's commitment to the EU to keep its deficit-to-GDP ratio
under 3%.
Analysts now fear that a new debate may erupt within the
fragile government government.
That did not stop Letta from looking forward.
On Thursday he said that reforming the current election law
blamed for much of Italy's political instability will now be at
the top of his coalition government's agenda.
Speaking on Italian radio, Letta said the current system
poses "a principle danger to our country".
The law - passed under a previous government of Berlusconi
and often referred to as Porcellum, or 'pigsty' - has been
widely blamed for leading to inconclusive February election
results, two months of political deadlock, and now the
unprecedented left-right government.
"Italians need a government, one with answers and
solidity," said Letta.
Efforts to introduce Constitutional changes to make the
country easier to govern, another top priority for Letta's
government since its April inception, have also been stalled
amid the IMU row.
Now, said Letta, "making Constitutional and electoral
reforms will be the priorities this autumn".

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