Rome: Italian Premier Mario Monti easily won
a vote of confidence in the Senate on Friday, signalling
parliamentary approval of the government's USD 39 billion
package of tax hikes and pension changes.
The austerity package is intended to save the country
from financial disaster and follows rising concerns in the
markets that Italy will find it difficult to pay off its
massive debts, which stand at around USD 2.5 trillion.
The vote passed 257-41, following passage in the lower
Chamber of Deputies last week.
Had it been defeated, Monti and his government of
technocrats would have been forced to resign. The new
government is tasked with making sure that Italy did not
become the next victim of Europe's debt crisis.
In remarks to lawmakers prior to the vote, Monti said the
package was "of extreme urgency and will allow Italy to face
the European crisis with its head held high."
Among the most disputed measures in the legislation is a
reform to Italy's generous pension system, which will require
Italians to work longer. Many of former premier Silvio
Berlusconi's loyalists, who make up Parliament's largest
party, also opposed Monti's decision to revive a home property
tax that Berlusconi had eliminated.
Unions staged strikes and demonstrations last week to
protest the measures.
Monti has said his package of tax hikes, reforms and
growth-boosting measures was the only way to save Italy
financially and give young Italians a foundation for economic
recovery and growth.
Data released yesterday showed that Italy, the eurozone's
third-largest economy, contracted 0.2 per cent in the third
quarter, furthering predictions of a mild recession in 2012.
First Published: Friday, December 23, 2011, 13:31