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Letta says Italy's deficit plan one of best in Europe

Premier disagrees with EU criticisms of fiscal measures

03 December, 17:13
Letta says Italy's deficit plan one of best in Europe (ANSA) - Rome, December 3 - Italy's fiscal accounts are not only in order, but its deficit is one of the lowest in the European Union, Premier Enrico Letta said Tuesday.

He was responding to criticisms earlier in the day from Olli Rehn, European economic and monetary affairs commissioner, who said that Italy is failing to respect debt-reduction targets mandated by the European Union, although it is making the grade on annual deficits.

"I say to the commissioner that our accounts are in order and only Italy and Germany have (a deficit) below 3% of GDP," or gross domestic product, said Letta, during a launch of a book of photographs produced by the ANSA news agency. "Our commitment should be rewarded, not whipped".

Italy's deficit-to-GDP ratio was recently forecast at 3% for 2013, 2.8% for 2014 and 2% in 2015, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Letta said Rehn was unfair when he expressed skepticism of Italy's plans to sell assets and cut spending to free up resources for new programs.

Rehn said that he had a "precise duty to remain skeptical until there is proof of the contrary, especially regarding revenue from privatization".

Letta said that Rehn's job is to be a "guarantor of European treaties" and contribute to stability rather than feeding skepticism.