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Italian senate clears austerity budget
Date: 2010/7/16 Click: 1884

The Italian senate on Thursday approved a 24.9-billion-euro (31.6-billion-dollar) austerity package aimed at bringing Italy's budget within the eurozone fiscal limit, local media reported.

The austerity package was approved in a Senate confidence vote by 170 to 136, according to the ANSA news agency.

The package sets out to trim Italy's budget deficit, which was 5.3 percent of gross domestic product in 2009, back to 5 percent in 2010, 3.9 percent in 2011 and 2.7 percent in 2012.

The two-year plan of spending cuts will start its way through parliament's lower house on July 26. It is expected to gain final approval before the August recess.

According to ANSA, Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti, the architect of the package, has called it "a necessity" and shortly before the vote, Bank of Italy Governor Mario Draghi hailed the pace at which the government was pushing the package through parliament.

"Moving fast was inevitable," Draghi said, referring to possible speculation in the wake of the Greece debt crisis. "A sharp correction in course was needed."

"Sorting out public accounts and growth are the essential conditions for financial stability," the governor said, adding it would be possible to cut taxes when the fight against tax dodging started to yield fruit.

"The containment of tax evasion can be an important lever for growth if it is tied to a reduction of taxes on honest taxpayers," Draghi said.

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