Economy minister's quit threat fails to stop party demands
Saccomanni won't stay if govt fails to respect budget pledges23 September, 12:17
Saccomanni said in an interview with daily newspaper Corriere della Sera that "promises must be kept or I'm not staying".
The former Bank of Italy director general, who is not aligned to a political party, faces a tough challenge of trying keep Italy's deficit-to-GDP ratio under the 3% threshold allowed by the EU while satisfying the demands made by the parties supporting Premier Enrico Letta's left-right government.
Last week the government vowed to take action after it forecast that the deficit for this year was on course to come in at 3.1%, after rolling back an unpopular property tax called IMU to stop ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party sinking the executive.
The PdL and Letta's centre-right Democratic Party (PD) are also demanding Saccomanni find the money within the tight budget to avert the 1% rise in the top band of VAT at the start of October, which would take it from 21% to 22%, amid fears it will depress consumer spending as Italy tries to emerge from its longest recession in over two decades. The minister also needs to find revenue to stop the deficit going over 3% or Italy faces the risk of a new excessive-deficit procedure being opened by the European Commission just months after one was closed.
"We have to respect our commitments with the EU," Saccomani said Sunday. "I'm doing my duty as minister, but I think the time has come for a serene, calm debate about the public finances". But senior PdL members said averting the VAT rise should not be so hard.
"We suggested possible coverage of 10.5 billion euros and he just has to choose from within this," PdL Senator Maurizio Gasparri, a former minister, said Monday.
"If Saccomanni does not move in this direction, he'll be going against the policies of the government that were debated in parliament, which Letta presented and which Letta intends to apply". Letta's grand-coalition government is weak and in danger of collapsing in the fallout of last month's decision by the supreme court to uphold a tax-fraud conviction against centre-right leader Berlusconi.