Rome

Monti says EU encourages paying 40 billion in overdue bills

Outgoing PM decides to speed up payment of public suppliers

Monti says EU encourages paying 40 billion in overdue bills

Rome, March 25 - Outgoing Italian Premier Mario Monti sought to cut off speculation on Monday that Europe was against his technical government's plan to settle 40 billion euros' worth of unpaid bills to Italian public administration suppliers. "The European Commission has encouraged Italy to put in place a program, noting that the impact on public finances will be taken into consideration as a mitigating factor (in deficit proceedings against Italy). The commission is acting from encouragement," Monti underlined. Speaking to the Senate on Monday, Monti also said he would act "ahead of time" to unblock the payments. European Union sources had disclosed on Monday that if the Italian public administration pays its overdue bills, European proceedings against Italy for excessive deficit will be more difficult to close. Monti's technical government has indicated that unblocking the payments to provide much-needed economic stimulus in the recession-hit country would raise Italy's 2013 budget deficit to 2.9%.

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