Italy PM defends budget as tempers fray in parliament

ROME: Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Friday vigorously defended the government’s 2019 budget as parliament held an acrimonious debate on the package, which needs to be approved by the end of the year to take effect on January 1.
An amended budget was presented to the Chamber of Deputies on Thursday after the government reached a last-minute deal with the European Commission to avoid a disciplinary procedure against Rome that could have led to fines.
Opposition lawmakers said they had no time to discuss the package, and the sitting was suspended after a deputy from the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) hurled the budget documents at a junior minister.
Speaking at the prime minister’s year-end news conference, Conte acknowledged that parliament’s role had been diminished, but said the deal with Brussels was “a great result which will benefit the whole country.”
Italy last week re-drafted the budget and lowered its deficit goal for next year to 2.04 per cent of gross domestic product after the Commission rejected its original target of 2.4 per cent, saying it broke EU fiscal rules.
Conte called the budget “the
first step of a broad and ambitious plan of reform” which would “turn Italy inside out like a sock,” and finally boost its chronically sluggish economic growth. — Reuters