Italy may reimburse 60 bln in private debt, Passera says

Passera hikes originally announced repayment amount by a third

Italy may reimburse 60 bln in private debt, Passera says

Rome, April 11 - Italian industry minister Corrado Passera on Thursday said the Italian government may be able to pay back 60 billion euros of debts it has outstanding with private-sector companies acting as suppliers and services providers for the state, raising the original amount the government has said it will reimburse by a third. Italy's government last month announced plans to pay back 40 billion euros in the next two years, saying that it was likely this will produce positive stimulus results by mid-2013 by helping companies facing a credit crunch and recession. The funds could rise to ''60 billion in the next 12 months,'' Passera said in Milan with reference to the measures that had already been announced. The action was made possible after European Commission (EC) in Brussels gave Italy more flexibility by relaxing its budget-deficit targets, despite the stability pact signed by nations including Italy that fixed those debt levels. The outgoing government, led by caretaker Premier Mario Monti, has raised its deficit target for 2013 to 2.9% of gross domestic product - a dramatic increase from its earlier target of 1.8% of GDP. It has also slashed its economic forecasts for 2013, predicting a 1.3% contraction, compared with an earlier prediction of a 0.2% fall in GDP.

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