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Letta says present period is 'difficult for everyone'

Municipalities on front line of angry citizens, says premier

24 December, 13:53
Letta says present period is 'difficult for everyone' (ANSA) - Camaiore, December 24 - The present period is "difficult for everyone," including municipal governments, Premier Enrico Letta said Tuesday.

He spoke on Christmas Eve during a visit to the Tuscan town of Camaiore, located about 30 km from Lucca, and the inauguration of a council hall.

"These are difficult times for municipalities, they are difficult for everyone," said Letta, who saw his government's 2014 budget receive final approval one day earlier.

That budget included small tax cuts and spending increases that the government said should help give the recession-plagued Italian economy a boost.

Critics, however, complained the budget has not done enough to help the economy recover from a double-dip recession that has caused record-high unemployment, stalled wage growth and consumer spending.

In Camaiore, Letta said that he realized that municipal governments are often on the front lines of citizen frustration, when taxpayers want to "let off steam".

That frustration was made worse in recent years with a much-hated IMU property tax, recently replaced by a new package of municipal levies.

Last week, the association of Italian town and city councils ANCI appealed to President Giorgio Napolitano for support, saying local governments face a collective shortfall of 1.5 billion euros due to the effects of the 2014 budget.