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The price of Italy's coalition

The price of Italy's coalition
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The price that Enrico Letta, the new Italian prime minister, had had to pay for the centre-right group of billionaire businessman Silvio Berlusconi joining the coalition was clear in his speech to parliament.

Support for the reforms needed to get Italy’s moribund economy growing again included the abolition of a major revenue raiser.

The hated housing tax on Italians’ first homes has been frozen, is under review, and is widely expected to be dumped.

Berlusconi had promised to get rid of the tax during his election campaign, even going so far as to promise that he would repay it from his own fortune, which led to complaints that he was trying to bribe voters.

A minimum wage for low income families is being proposed to appease the anti-politician Beppe Grillo’s 5-Star movement. Up until now Italy has had no law governing the minimum wage that is paid, instead that is set through collective bargaining agreements

Growth stimulation is supposed to come from cuts in social security contributions for companies that hire the young and unemployed.

Measures to get more women into the workforce are also promised but the government has a tough task ahead reversing a jobless total that is at 11.6 percent, with more than a third of young Italians out of work.

The cost of the measures has been estimated at eight billion euros and it is not clear how the government is going to raise all that money, particularly as Letta said he will not go ahead with an increase in VAT.

Financial market reacted positively to the end of months of political stalemate.

The Milan stock market index was the region’s best performer, up 2.2 percent. Gainers included banks and Berlusconi’s media company.

Italy’s cost of borrowing also dropped to its lowest since October 2010.

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