Rome, February 4 - Italian ex-premier and centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi declared on Monday that he favours a new tax amnesty if granted a ruling coalition in the upcoming parliamentary election, set for February 24-25. "I would absolutely agree with creating tax amnesty. I have always been against the left on this," Berlusconi told the television station La7. "Absolutely yes. There is absolutely need for an amnesty. If I have a majority, it will be done," added Berlusconi, who is the leader and founder of the centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party. Berlusconi's comments provoked immediate reaction from the law-oriented Italy of Values (IDV) party. "Berlusconi proposes an amnesty? Obvious and evident given what he knows about tax evasion. Italy must become a virtuous country and can only do so by carrying out a series of battles against tax evasion. A tombstone should be put on this," said Antonio Borghesi, president of IDV Chamber representatives and Civic Revolution candidate in the current election cycle. Berlusconi was convicted in October of involvement in an off-shore tax evasion scheme at Mediaset, a case that he is appealing in higher court. During his last mandate, the ex-premier spearheaded a tax amnesty in 2009-2010 that brought home 104.5 billion euros in capital and other assets hidden abroad. The amnesty allowed Italians to legalize hidden assets and accounts without having to pay back taxes - only a one-off penalty fee, initially 5% on their value. According to the treasury, 98% of the 104.5 billion euros in assets and capital declared were repatriated and resulted in the collection of 5.6 billion euros in penalty fees.

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