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Italy heading towards 'disaster' if taxes not lowered

Berlusconi says that Monti's agenda is like a 'lesson'

24 December, 16:26
Italy heading towards 'disaster' if taxes not lowered (ANSA) - Rome, December 24 - Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi said on Monday that taxes needed to be lowered and an unpopular housing tax scrapped in Italy to avoid a "disaster".

Speaking on the Italian news program Tgcom24, Berlusconi said that caretaker premier Mario Monti's insistence that the country cannot afford to eliminate the property tax, or IMU, that was reintroduced with his administration reforms was "devoid of any foundation and far from true". Italy amended its property tax code in December as part of an austerity package to restore health to the country's public finances.

Berlusconi's 2008-2011 government abolished a similar tax.

Berlusconi has often said that his party, People of Freedom (PdL) will abolish IMU.

Monti posted an agenda of reforms on the Web Sunday after saying he might lead forces who endorse it in Italy's upcoming general election.

"I have not read Monti's agenda, I have been busy, but my team has explained it to me," Berlusconi said in the interview. "The agenda has made clear that our fears were well founded and that it is driven by more austerity and taxes. There are no innovative elements, just the vision of a professor teaching a lesson," Berlusconi said.

The technocratic premier brought in last November amid turmoil in the financial markets to replace Berlusconi is an economics professor and European commissioner.