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Italian govt averted 'total disaster,' says Monti

Emergency administration had to 'put out fire'

20 November, 11:22
Italian govt averted 'total disaster,' says Monti (ANSA) - Dubai, November 20 - Italian Premier Mario Monti said Tuesday that his emergency government of unelected technocrats averted an economic disaster with the measures it has taken since coming to power last year.

Monti's administration, which was sworn in after Silvio Berlusconi quit as premier a year ago when Italy's debt crisis was threatening to spiral out of control, has passed painful austerity measures of tax hikes and spending cuts to put the country on track to balance the national budget.

It has also passed a series of structural economic reforms designed to boost growth in the medium and long term, including a controversial labour-market package and liberalisations of several sectors of the economy. ''We've managed to avoid a total disaster. In the last 12 months we had to put out the fire at home,'' Monti said in Dubai during a tour of the Persian Gulf.

''We could not risk having another flash point in Europe (that would have worsened the eurozone crisis)''.

Monti pointed out that a recent report by the OECD said that his government's reforms would boost Italy's gross domestic product (GDP) by 4% over the next 10 years.

''The markets have begun to understand this and (investors) are coming back to Italy,'' he added.

Monti reiterated his view that Europe as a whole was on the way to fixing a debt crisis that has raised doubts about the future of the single currency.

''The eurozone is overcoming the crisis,'' Monti said. ''More than a currency, the euro is a symbol of European integration which the governments of Europe are determined to preserve and reinforce''.