Italy’s Economy minister Giulio Tremonti says he will meet the European Central Bank’s demands for sweeping economic reforms. In exchange Italy will get backing to prevent it being swept up into the euro zone debt crisis.
Tremonti said plans are well-advanced for making significant fiscal adjustments for 2012 and 2013, but some of these will now be brought forward and extra measures to spur growth will be introduced.
With crisis the word on everyone’s lips and on the front pages the measures may include full liberalisation of local public services and the professions, more flexible job contracts, easier hiring and firing rules and public sector pay cuts.
Italians say they realise something has to give: “I hope that Berlusconi wakes up. Either he wakes up or he leaves. I voted for him but he needs to do something concrete. If not, he needs to leave, and that’s it,” said one woman.
At a Rome cafe a man in his 20s said: “It worries me to see that initiatives for making it easier for young people to enter the labour market have all been withdrawn. But we don’t give up – even if tougher times are ahead.”
Another woman was worried about the effects of cutbacks: “They say we’ll return to the way it was in the 1940s after the war but I hope not. Let’s hope we won’t.”
Other possible belt-tightening measures include later retirement for women, and more contributions before retirement can be taken, but Prime Minister Berlusconi, one of Italy’s richest men, has ruled out a wealth tax.