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Sicily can't afford to fight Mafia, region says

Public-spending freeze 'hamstrings fight against crime'

28 January, 17:12
Sicily can't afford to fight Mafia, region says (ANSA) - Palermo, January 28 - A government move to freeze 70% of Sicily's public spending means the region can't pay Carabinieri military police, which are in the front lines of the fight against the Mafia, regional authorities said Tuesday.

The State last week froze 558 million euros of the region's money until it pays off 15 billion euros in debt accumulated over the past 15 years, a move center-left Governor Rosario Crocetta, who was elected in 2012, said would "drown" his region.

The frozen funds were earmarked for victims of Mafia violence, anti-Mafia associations, wages for 26,000 public employees, benefits for couples in civil unions, 400-euro monthly welfare checks for people living below the poverty line, public housing, theaters, sport clubs and other cultural associations, and many more public programs.

"The State believes all our revenue must go to replenish funds destroyed by preceding governments," Crocetta said.

"That's like asking a family to give up electricity, water, gas and food until it pays off past debts".