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Padoan 'knows what to do to relaunch growth' says Rehn

'Anxious to work on jobs, unleashing potential'

25 February, 14:47
Padoan 'knows what to do to relaunch growth' says Rehn (ANSA) - Strasbourg, February 25 - New Italian Economy Minister and former Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development chief economist Pier Carlo Padoan "knows what to do to relaunch growth in Italy", European Economic and Monetary Commissioner Olli Rehn said Tuesday.

Rehn noted that Padoan was the author of "many reports on growth and structural reforms".

The commissioner said he was "anxious" to work with Matteo Renzi's government "to create jobs and unleash the country's potential". Padoan, 64, is by far the oldest and most experienced cabinet member in Italy's youngest government led by its youngest premier.

A former economics professor in Rome, he has also worked as consultant for the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the European Commission.

Padoan will be expected to use his international credibility to reassure markets and Italy's partners while mixing tax cuts with fiscal discipline to help lift fully out of its deepest postwar recession.

Rehn, a watchdog of the 3% budget-to-GDP limit imposed by EU treaties, had already hailed Padoan's appointment.

Padoan, a past critic of inflicting austerity policies on struggling countries, has often stressed that "the taxes that hurt growth the least are those on property".

Another well-known quote is "Italy is like a car accelerating at great speed with the hand-brake on." Many are looking to him to release that brake by enacting Renzi's pledges to cut red tape and labour costs, lower taxes on the middle and lower classes and help speed justice reforms to attract foreign investment.

He is also expected to work closely with spending-cut czar Carlo Cottarelli to decide where to employ the cash from government savings, as well as the proceeds from a raft of privatisations.

In addition to the chief economist post, Padoan has been deputy secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) since June 2007 and previously served as an economics advisor to Italian premiers Massimo D'Alema and Giuliano Amato, in charge of international economic policies.

The energetic 39-year-old Renzi, who has been compared to a young Tony Blair, faces the last of two confidence votes in the Lower House Tuesday.