Rome: The collapse of an important building at Pompeii is a sign of mismanagement, not underfunding, according to Italian Culture Minister Sandro Bondi who addressed Parliament in Rome on Wednesday about the state of the ancient Roman city.
Bondi also fended off calls to resign after the 2,000-year-old House of the Gladiators collapsed into rubble on Saturday amid a period of heavy rain.
The collapse of Pompeii`s House of the Gladiators "is not the fault of scarce resources" but the fault of way it was managed, he said.
An eruption by nearby Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD buried Pompeii under 6 metres of volcanic ash, preserving much of the city.
Critics of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi accuse his government of starving the Culture Ministry of resources even though Italy has perhaps the world`s richest cultural heritage.
The ministry has been subject to spending reductions to the tune of 16 percent from 2008 to around EUR 1.71 billion. Funding is due to decline a further 17 percent within 2013.
Bondi in his address warned that other parts of the 76 hectare archaeological site risk damage and cited examples of other archaeological disasters.
In March, part of the ceiling of Roman Emperor Nero`s Domus Aurea near the Roman Coliseum in the Italian capital caved in following an unusually wet winter. Three years ago, a six-meter section of ancient wall named after the 3rd century Emperor Aurelius collapsed.
Berlusconi opponents called for a confidence vote on Bondi which they hope will force him from office if the minister doesn`t step down.
"We ask you to resign not for any specific case but for the state of abandon of Italian culture," said former opposition leader Walter Veltroni in Parliament.