Italy's new PM Meloni snipes at ECB in maiden speech

Italy's new PM Meloni snipes at ECB in maiden speech
Italy's new PM Meloni snipes at ECB in maiden speech Copyright Thomson Reuters 2022
By Reuters
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ROME - Giorgia Meloni took aim at the European Central Bank in her first speech as Italian prime minister on Tuesday, saying its recent monetary tightening decisions were widely criticised and were hurting high-debt countries like Italy.

Meloni told parliament the ECB's hike in interest rates in July - its first for 11 years - was "a decision that many considered hazardous and which risks impacting bank credit to families and firms."

With inflation running at almost five times its 2% reference ceiling, the ECB hiked its key refinancing rate by half a percentage point in July and by another 75 basis points in September.

It is expected to raise rates by another 75 basis points on Thursday, according to analysts polled by Reuters.

Meloni said the ECB's rate hikes, coming on top of its decision to end its purchases of government bonds in July this year, "have created additional difficulties for those member states which, like us, have a high public debt."

Italy's debt stood at 150% of national output at the end of last year, the second highest level in the euro zone after Greece. The previous government led by Mario Draghi forecast a decline to 145% this year.

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