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Letta says EC right to berate Italy on corruption

Illegality a 'brake on the economy', central bank governor says

04 February, 13:09
Letta says EC right to berate Italy on corruption (ANSA) - Kuwait City, February 4 - Italian Premier Enrico Letta on Tuesday welcomed criticism from the European Commission (EC) concerning the level of graft in Italy and said the government would "work on" the matter over the next few days.

"I think Brussels is right to chastise countries, including Italy, on corruption and legality," said the premier in reference to the presentation Monday of the EC's first ever anti-corruption report in which Italy came under heavy fire.

"We will work on it and you will see elements presented over the next few days," Letta added.

The EC report highlighted the high level of corruption particularly in large-scale infrastructure projects in Italy, which account for an estimated 40% of the total value of the contracts. It pointed to large public projects such as the post-earthquake reconstruction of the city of L'Aquila, Milan Expo 2015, and the future Turin-Lyon high-speed rail link. These are all at risk of "criminal infiltration" and "misappropriation of public funds", the EC said. The report also placed suspicion of corruption on certain completed high-speed rail projects in Italy on the basis that the costs were up to ten times higher than for similar projects in other locations in Europe and Japan. Part of the problem is the allegedly strong link between politics and organized crime and "the low level of integrity of elected representatives", the report said.

On Tuesday Bank of Italy Governor Ignazio Visco also spoke out against corruption, saying it acts as brake on the economy.

"Illegality in its various forms, from corruption in the public service sector to the violence of organised crime, strongly conditions economic growth, preventing the proper allocation of public funds for development and creating distortions within the market," he said.

The Italian Audit Court recently found that corruption costs Italy roughly 60 billion euros per year.