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Finance Minister Giovanni Tria called on international investors to ignore the political noise and be confident that Italy’s populist government will redouble its efforts to avoid censure from European partners over the country’s ballooning debt.
“We are going to try and get an agreement with the European Commission,” Tria said Tuesday at an investor conference in London. “This government is more prudent than before. Don’t listen to the electoral noise.”
The finance chief’s comments show he’s positioning himself as a moderate figure within the cabinet in Rome, alongside Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. Tria also reiterated his criticism of a mini-bill proposal made by some members of the ruling coalition.
Critics have charged the bills, also known as “mini-BOTs,” could pave the way for a parallel currency or even an Italian exit from the monetary union. “I don’t think it will be introduced, I want to be clear about that,” Tria said.
Since the EU’s executive arm recommended an infringement procedure against Italy for its failure to rein in debt, Deputy Premiers Matteo Salvini from the rightist League and Luigi Di Maio from the anti-establishment Five Star Movement have made contradictory remarks on fiscal strategy.
Salvini, the nation’s strongman after his party triumphed in last month’s European Parliament elections, has said the government should press ahead with a tax-cut plan featuring a “flat tax” that could increase the public deficit.
Tria also reassured investors that the government’s main goal is to increase public investment to stimulate growth and repeated that the target of a deficit of 2.1 percent of output this year is at hand amid lower spending and higher-than-expected revenue.
“We are looking at whether we can avoid increasing taxes with alternative measures on the side of cutting expenditures,” Tria said in London.
--With assistance from Alessandro Speciale.
To contact the reporters on this story: Lorenzo Totaro in Rome at firstname.lastname@example.org;John Ainger in London at email@example.com
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fergal O'Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org, Jerrold Colten, Alessandro Speciale
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