Rome

Business chiefs encouraged after meeting Monti

Govt promises not to raise VAT

Business chiefs encouraged after meeting Monti

(ANSA) - Rome, September 5 - Business leaders expressed optimism that constructive measures will be found after a key meeting in Rome Wednesday with Italian government leaders. Premier Mario Monti, ministers and other high government officials for the economy, labor and European Affairs met with association leaders for banks, businesses, industry, insurance companies and cooperatives. During the meeting, which addressed productivity and growth, Monti compared the difference between Italy's productivity and that of Europe's strongest economies to the spread between Italy's bond rates and Germany's. Italian government members will meet with union chiefs next week on the same topic to try to reach consensus on measures to take. Giuseppe Mussari, chairman of the bank association ABI, said the Italian government promised during the meeting that no further hikes to the value added tax, which is currently 21%. An 2% increase was planned for October in the government's December Save Italy austerity package, but Monti's administration subsequently said this had been put back until next year thanks to money raised with cuts after a review of public spending. "We encountered a constructive climate," said Giorgio Squinzi, president of Italy's powerful industrial employer's confederation Confindustria, commenting on the meeting. "The competent ministers answered promptly, and this can be the start of a dialogue we hope can continue," Squinzi added. Squinzi earlier in the day criticized the government for not providing an industrial policy, and proposed reducing income tax to help stimulate consumption. "I believe I can say that the government will propose something on research and innovation, even if perhaps it won't be on the scale that we maintain would be sufficient," Squinzi said after the meeting. "The pharmaceutical industry was subject in recent months to numerous provisions that weakened it. "This sector is strategic for the country, because it does research and innovation. Instead of penalizing it, it should be supported". Squinzi continued by expressing deep concern for Italy's youth unemployment, which he said was over 35%. Giorgio Guerrini, chairman of a network of businesses called Rete Imprese Italia said: "the answers that the government gave were very pragmatic. We have seen in the past the policy of making promises that one knew could not be maintained. Fortunately, that phase is over." Guerrini said he asked the government to reduce taxes on productivity increases, reduce the tax burden of employees, streamline bureaucracy, and help businesses reduce the cost of cash. Luigi Marino, chairman of the cooperatives' alliance, called the meeting "a positive encounter". photo: Confindustria Chief Giorgio Squinzi (right) and Giuseppe Mussari, chairman of the bank association ABI.

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