Rome, February 15 - Industry Minister Carlo Calenda on Thursday called off talks on helping Rome with its financial woes after Mayor Virginia Raggi called a one-billion payment from the ministry an electoral move. Raggi is "arrogant" and the only response to her statement is to "close talks so as to avoid wasting more time," Calenda said. "Evidently she believes she can do without help," said the minister. "I can only note that we are faced with such a combination of incompetence and arrogance as I had never before experienced. "We will go forward with the regional government (of Lazio) with the projects that do not depend on this administration". Earlier Raggi slammed Calenda for "promising one billion euros for Rome" ahead of national elections to be held on March 4. "I am surprised, although not that much, that two weeks before the vote one billion (euros) are again promised to Rome after five years during which the government absolutely forgot about the capital", said the mayor, a member of the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement (M5S). Raggi was commenting on a letter written by Calenda which was published by Rome daily Il Messaggero. "If that billion existed, we would have put it in the budget - in the budget I can include neither words nor promises", she also said. The minister's letter published by the newspaper accused the Raggi administration of "immobility" and "lack of ability" to get things done, which did not allow it to "use resources that have already been allocated" for the city. Calenda was referring to a 'table for Rome', a development plan for the capital he launched last year, which was at the center of multiple controversies between the mayor and the minister.
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