Alfano pledges 7.5 bn tax cuts for folks 'who make babies'

Interior minister statement breaks summer political truce

(ANSA) - Rome, August 20 - Interior Minister Angelino Alfano proposed Thursday what he said is a wide-ranging package of family tax cuts backed by special laws, saying he wants to jack up Italy's feeble birth rate and help people "who make babies".
    "We want Italy to become the country of cradles," Alfano said in a surprise major policy statement - to be put to Premier Matteo Renzi - heralding the end of the summer political truce, "we have worked for a full packet of special anti-crisis laws".
    Alfano, leader of the conservative New Democratic Centre party in Renzi's coalition, disclosed the NCD's plans to make tax cuts to help families worth 7.5 billion euros as well as striking a "blow" at IMU, the unpopular tax on purchase of first homes.
    Renzi, from the former communist Democratic Party, also had pledged to slash or abolish IMU on first homes but Alfano's comments were the most detailed government statement so far on support for families as Italy struggles to bolster economic growth and accelerate recovery from six years of stagnation and recession marked by sky high youth unemployment.
    Alfano, formerly considered the chosen heir to former premier Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right political empire until the two men squabbled, proposed "a sharp blow at taxation on the first home and a very strong fiscal support for families, reductions and deductions for the new born, for the expenses on first children and education, from nappies to books, and cash to families who make babies, but also to families who take care of old people at home".
    "We have a plan for 7.5 billion that is very precise and solid both from the point of view of costs and of cover, a 'family act,' an organic and organised plan of support to those who have stood up to the crisis and supported Italy". Tens of thousands of Italians have emigrated during the crisis while capital flight has been a major problem the government has sought to tackle with special deals for people who bring money back to the nation.
    The tax cuts would be funded by "a robust cut in public spending to be earmarked for families and firms," Alfano said.
    "We need special laws for a few years that will enable a shake-up in tax, in bureaucracy and stronger support for families," Alfano continued.
    His comments come following six years of stagnation and recession in Italy. The country only began to see the first signs of growth in its economy earlier this year.
    "We are not facing normal situation or living in an ordinary period of history," Alfano said. "This crisis has lasted longer than the last World War." Alfano said the government had made "some important decisions within the work market and on Article 18", the Italian labour law that hitherto made it difficult for companies to dismiss workers on open-ended contracts.
    He said they had made changes to "the provision of justice" and had shown "tenacity" in bringing about constitutional reform. The changes were spearheaded by Renzi in his Jobs Law with support from across the spectrum.
    Alfano explained that "We need special laws for a few years that will enable a shake-up in tax, in bureaucracy and stronger support for families," Alfano said. "We are not facing a normal situation or living in an ordinary period of history," Alfano said. "This crisis has lasted longer than the last World War," he claimed, referring to the conflict that left Italy in ruins.
   

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