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Italy's coalition willing to keep deficit below 2 percent of GDP - source

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By Reuters
Italy's coalition willing to keep deficit below 2 percent of GDP - source
FILE PHOTO: Italian Economy Minister Giovanni Tria attends as Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte (unseen) speaks during his first session at the Lower House of the Parliament in Rome, Italy, June 6, 2018. REUTERS/Tony Gentile   -   Copyright  TONY GENTILE(Reuters)

ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s ruling coalition is willing to keep the country’s public deficit below 2 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) next year, a government source said after a meeting at the prime minister’s office over the budget late on Monday.

The government, made up of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and the League party, must present its budget targets this week.

“The idea to remain below the psychological threshold of 2 percent is prevailing,” the source said.

Another source said that during the meeting, Economy Minister Giovanni Tria, an academic who does not belong to either of the ruling parties, insisted on setting a 2019 deficit target of 1.6 percent, while 5-Star and League ministers pushed for hiking the deficit above 2 percent.

The prime minister’s spokesman warned last week that 5-Star would sack Treasury officials in a “mega-vendetta” unless they found the resources needed for welfare spending. [nL8N1W80JA] Tria attended Monday’s meeting flanked by his ministry’s three top officials, the sources said.

(Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte, writing by Giselda Vagnoni; Editing by Crispian Balmer)