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Industry boss Squinzi gives Letta ultimatum

Confindustria threatens to appeal to president

06 February, 16:17
Industry boss Squinzi gives Letta ultimatum (see related stories on Berlusconi, Renzi) (ANSA) - Rome, February 6 - Giorgio Squinzi, the head of Italy's powerful industrial employers' confederation Confindustria, on Thursday threatened to appeal to President Giorgio Napolitano if the government fails to present measures to help the nation's struggling businesses.

Squinzi has been highly critical of Premier Enrico Letta's coalition government in recent months, especially of its failure to deliver substantial cuts to labour and income taxes. At the weekend he suggested it would be better to return to the polls for early elections if the government is unable to accelerate on moves to revive the economy, which is slowly emerging from its longest postwar recession. "If Letta comes with his hands empty (to a meeting with Confindustria on December 19), we'll have no choice but to appeal to Napolitano," Squinzi said. "In his wisdom he'll make the right decisions". Squinzi, however, may not find the head of State too sympathetic to his complaints if he does appeal to him.

Napolitano engineered the establishment of Letta's government to end two months of deadlock following last year's inconclusive general election.

He also put out a statement expressing "appreciation" for Letta's administration on Wednesday, an apparent bid to snuff out speculation about its future.

There has been talk that Letta could step aside to make room at the helm of government for Matteo Renzi, the young, energetic new leader of the premier's centre-left Democratic Party (PD), the biggest group in parliament.

Another much-discussed possibility is that Letta could have a cabinet reshuffle incorporating loyalists to Renzi, after he won a PD leadership primary with a landslide in December.

There have been calls from within the government coalition for it to hold talks on the health of the administration, possible holding a confidence vote following its conclusion.