Balanced budget in 2013, Monti repeats

'We're more popular than politicians we replaced' says premier

Balanced budget in 2013, Monti repeats

(ANSA) - Rome, October 12 - Italian Premier Mario Monti says his government's new 11.5-billion-euro budget will keep Italy on track for balancing the budget next year as promised. The budget package, which lowers the bottom two tax brackets but cuts educations and health spending, comes on top of a 30-billion-euro emergency clutch of spending cuts and tax hikes in December to stop Italy falling off the euro-crisis cliff. Speaking on Thursday night, Monti acknowledged that his administration of unelected technocrats had "weighed in an unprecedented way on citizens with (our) reforms". But he noted that, despite this, "we are still more popular than the parties (we replaced) who did not do these things". Voter disenchantment with parties has grown amid a welter of graft and sleaze scandals across the country. Monti's aim is to bring the deficit/GDP ratio down to 0.1%, a "technical" balancing of the budget. Several international forecasts have said he will not hit the target because of a steep decline in GDP after austerity measures helped push Italy deeper into recession.

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