Salvini: Italian budget decided in Rome, not Brussels

The Italian government will not amend its budget deficit and economic growth forecast despite repeated requests from the European Union to do so, Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said in a statement following Tuesday's cabinet meeting just hours before the Brussels deadline to make the amendments.

The budget deficit goal will remain unchanged at 2.4 percent of GDP while the economic growth forecast will remain at 1.5 percent. The other Deputy Prime Minister, Luigi Di Maio, leader of the Five Star Movement (M5S) also said that the key figures of the budget will remain unchanged and the government will closely monitor spending and ramp up the sale of state assets.

"We are convinced the country needs this budget so the economy can gain fresh momentum," Di Maio said.

On October 23rd, the European Commission called on Italy to revise its budget figures, after it became clear that the coalition government has tripled the 2019 budget deficit goal to 2.4 percent of the GDP from a 0.8 percent deficit planned by the previous government.

On November 5th, the meeting of the Eurozone finance ministers (Eurogroup) also warned that Italy should reduce its budget deficit figure or face an excessive deficit procedure as early as November 21st. Should the EU finance ministers go ahead with the procedure, Italy might face financial penalties of up to 0.2 percent of its GDP or EUR 3.4 billion (US$3.84 billion).

Among EU member states, Italy has the second highest debt to GDP ratio of 131.8 percent m, only surpassed by Greece at 178.6 percent.

Title image: Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini (MTI/EPA/Guillaume Horcajuelo)

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