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Italian parliament poised to tighten Italy's belt

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Italian parliament poised to tighten Italy's belt
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The Italian prime minister has said the long promised austerity plan to ‘save Italy’ will be voted through the parliament’s lower chamber on Wednesday.

The much changed package to claw back 54-billion euros and balance the budget by 2013 has already been passed by the Senate.

To get to this point there has been open backbiting in the Italian government, along with public protests that set EU leaders worrying that the will to push it through had gone.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi went to Brussels to allay those fears.

President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy told reporters: ‘We also discussed measures the Italian government will soon implement to reinforce economic growth and assure the sustainability of public debt in the future. The fiscal discipline and the reforms for growth are essential for market confidence.’

The austerity plan is crucial. Italy is the euro zone’s third biggest economy and doubts have been growing in international markets that it can not keep control of its mountain of debt, which, at 1.9 trillion euros, dwarfs that of Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

The calls for Berlusconi to step down have been getting louder.