Rome, June 17 - Economy Minister Fabrizio Saccomanni said Monday that the government remained committed to waging war on rampant tax evasion in Italy, saying it was necessary for "social justice". But he also stressed that the tax authorities had to account for honest people who were having trouble paying tax bills as Italy struggles with its longest recession in over 20 years. Tax collectors for the Equitalia agency, which takes action to recover outstanding tax revenues, have become hate figures during the recession and its offices in many parts of the country have come under a series of attacks. At the weekend the government approved a decree which stipulated that Equitalia cannot take possession of people's main residences for outstanding tax bills, unless these homes have an exceptionally high market value. "In a period in which the Italian people have to face sacrifices on a daily basis, tenacious pursuit of evaders and the facilitation of fiscal obligations for honest taxpayers are important initiatives for achieving greater social justice," Saccomanni told a meeting of finance police officers. "The fight against tax evasion cannot be slowed down at all, but it can and must take account of the needs of taxpayers in difficulty". The measure on Equitalia repossessions was part of the so-called 'to do' decree of urgent moves to help revive the Italian economy and lift it out of recession. The 'to do' decree, which is already law after being approved by the cabinet Saturday but needs to be ratified by parliament, freed up around three billion euros for public works projects this year, which should create 30,000 temporary construction jobs. The decree also featured a move to cut energy bills by a total of 550 million euros, in part by slashing a tax to finance renewable energy initiatives. The government is set to pass more measures to simplify bureaucracy on Wednesday and it will look at ways to fight youth unemployment, with around four out of 10 people aged 15 to 24 out of work, at a cabinet meeting on Friday. Fighting tax evasions is one of the issues on the agenda at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland, which starts later on Monday.
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di Giovanni Pastore