Di Maio vows govt will avert VAT hike (3)

We remain in NATO, still US ally says minister, deputy PM

(ANSA) - Rome, June 7 - Labour and Industry Minister Luigi Di Maio pledged on Thursday that the government will avert a hike in value added tax scheduled to kick in later this year unless alternative funding can be found in the budget.
    "You have my word here at Confcommercio that VAT will not increase and the safeguard clause will be defused," Di Maio, who is also deputy premier and leader of the 5-Star Movement (M5S), told the assembly of retailers association Confcommercio.
    Earlier on Thursday Confcommercio President Carlo Sangalli told the new government that "there can be no negotiating or haggling over VAT". "They call them (the scheduled VAT hikes) safeguard clauses," he added. "But, dear friends, the real safeguard for businesses and citizens if to defend their incomes, their purchasing power".
    Di Maio also said Thursday that the new 5-Star Movement/League government's call for sanctions on Russia to be revised does not mean it wants to exit NATO. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and the US Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchinson said Wednesday that the sanctions should stay. "We remain in NATO and allied to the United States," Di Maio, who is also the deputy premier and 5-Star Movement (M5S) leader, said on the fringes of a meeting with Leonardo managers about the aerospace group's plant at Pomigliano d'Arco, near Naples.
    "But we are carrying forward dialogue with other countries too, such as Russia, as has always been the case. "I'm not worried about the No on Russian sanctions. "Our government is allied to the United States and wants Italy to remain in the agreements, in the alliances, guaranteeing continuity with what came before.
    "This government won't be supine to the will of other governments. "Historically, Italy has has had a the role within the Western alliance, within NATO, of being a country that dialogues with countries of the East. "We have always dialogued with countries like Russia, but also countries of the Mediterranean, like those in North Africa, which will enable us to resolve the problem of migrant flows too". He said the new government would not be reckless with the public finances but stressed that it would not be afraid to have differences of opinion with the European Commission. "The solidity of the accounts is dear to us," Di Maio said.
    "If you love Italy, and we love Italy, if we want to carry out economic projects, you have to negotiate with Europe about the conditions that Italy cannot sustain, including by saying no". He said the government will bring in a minium wage for all workers who are not employed on contracts regulated by national collective-bargaining systems.
    "Our recipe to enable the companies that create jobs to have lift-off is to leave them in peace," he added. "First of all we have to lighten up the laws, because there are too many"