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Berlusconi 'very happy' with budget changes

'More equitable and sustainable', says PM

30 August, 14:37
Berlusconi 'very happy' with budget changes (See related story on site) (ANSA) - Rome, August 30 - Italian Premier Silvio Berlusocni said Tuesday he was "very happy" with the revamped budget package he approved with senior ministers late Monday.

"I am very, very happy because the austerity package has been improved without changing the total revenue raised," Berlusconi told a news programme broadcast on one of his TV channels. The new version of the package, which is due to face a vote in the Senate next week, drops the so-called "solidarity tax" that proposed an extra 5% on incomes higher than 90,000 euros a year, and a 10% increase on incomes above 150,000 euros.

"I said I was introducing the solidarity tax with a bleeding heart, because I always promised that we would not put our hands in Italians' pockets. We have successfully done away with it with other ways of saving". The latest changes also include halving the number of members of parliament, changes to pensions, reducing proposed cuts to local authorities, and increasing measures to stop tax evasion.

Berlusconi praised the strength of his coalition following seven hours of meetings at his villa outside Milan with Economy Minister, Giulio Tremonti, and key ally, Umberto Bossi, head of the Northern League and other leaders on Monday.

"I am satisfied because the result confirms the cohesion of the majority and the fact that the reality is different to what is being said in the newspapers about relations between me and Tremonti and relations withint the coalition," Berlusconi said.

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