Rome

Property-tax rebate 'essential' to deal says PdL

8 points 'non-negotiable' says Berlusconi party secretary Alfano

Property-tax rebate 'essential' to deal says PdL

Rome, April 25 - Meeting an election pledge to repay an unpopular property tax called IMU is an essential part of a cross-party agenda to be approved by a right-left coalition, centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) Party Secretary Angelino Alfano said after talks with possible future premier Enrico Letta of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) Thursday. "There still knots to be untied, we haven't closed the deal yet," Alfano said. The PdL, led by three-time premier Silvio Berlusconi, has proposed an eight-point platform, including the IMU rebate, which are "essential to our participation in the government" to end two months of post-election stalemate, he said. It was "unimaginable" to think the PdL would team up with the PD without (the) IMU (rebate)," which tops the party's platform, he said. The eight-point platform is: 1) Scrapping IMU on primary residences and giving back what Italians paid in 2012. 2) Cutting powers of tax-collecting agency Equitalia to seize money or impound property in lieu of unpaid taxes. 3) Tax breaks for firms that hire young people. 4) Cutting red tape on businesses. 5) Abolishing party funding. 6) Tax reform. 7) Direct election of the Italian president by the people, not parliament. 8) Justice reform. The PD, which won a majority in the House but not the equally powerful Senate in February elections, issued its own 8-point platform during fruitless efforts to tempt comedian Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement into a 'government of change'. None of its points coincides with the PdL's and some go in the opposite direction, such as a conflict-of-interest law that would force Berlusconi to choose between his media empire or politics and a corruption law that would reinstate big penalties, eased by Berlusconi, for accountancy fraud. The only common area is on the economy, where the PD wants to boost growth and create jobs after 18 months of austerity. The PD narrowly beat the PdL in the popular vote in both Houses, on about 30%, with M5S getting about 25%. After his meeting with Alfano, Letta held talks with M5S, pleading with them to drop their boycott of the traditional parties.

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