Berlusconi: Austerity Measures To Be Sped Up

Italy Hastens Austerity Measures To Stave Off Looming Crisis

Silvio Berlusconi has revealed a package of economic measures in the hope of easing the sovereign debt crisis currently engulfing world markets.

Following emergency talks with finance minister Giulio Tremonti, the Italian Prime Minister announced that austerity measures would be sped up to bring balance to the country’s debt-heavy economy by 2013, a year earlier than planned.

He also announced reform of the labour market and a liberalisation of the Italian economy. A balanced budget amendment will be written into Italy’s constitution. Berlusconi blamed previous governments for the country’s current debt problem.

Alongside Tremonti, the Italian premier revealed the measures at a press conference, having spoken to representatives of the European Central Bank, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Tim Geithner, the US Treasury Secretary.

He said: "We consider it appropriate to introduce an acceleration of the measures which we introduced recently in the fiscal planning law to give us the possibility of reaching our objective of balancing the budget early, by 2013 instead of 2014".

The move is designed to reassure international financial markets after a Catastrophic few days on the Milan stock exchange in which bonds and shares were heavily sold.

However, doubt remains as to whether the measures can bring balance to Italy’s beleaguered economy, which currently has a national debt running to around 120 per cent of GDP.

Following the press conference, the leader of the opposition, Pier Luigi Bersani, repeated his call for Berlusconi to leave office.

According to a Downing Street spokesman, David Cameron, who is currently on holiday in Italy, has spoken on the phone to German Chancellor Angela Merkel about the current instability in European and American stock markets.


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