Brussels

Letta 'won't smash public coffers' for VAT or IMU taxes

'We must respect EU commitments' says premier

Letta 'won't smash public coffers' for VAT or IMU taxes

(see related) Brussels, June 28 - Italian Premier Enrico Letta said his left-right coalition government "will continue to do everything" to respect its EU commitments while trying to lower unpopular taxes but not by "smashing the public coffers". On Wednesday the cabinet postponed a scheduled 1% rise on the top band of value added tax (VAT) until October to buy time to find the money to avoid it all together, something the center-right People of Freedom (PdL) party of Silvio Berlusconi has been staunchly pushing for. Even more fervent has been their demand to scrap a loathed property tax called IMU, threatening to pull their support and sink the government if it fails. The push to buck both taxes, which technocrat Economy Minister Fabrizio Saccomanni has called "preposterous" and unaffordable, has caused a serious node of tension in the fragile left-right administration. Speaking outside an EU summit Friday, Letta stressed he was not willing to "smash the public coffers" for these taxes. "Whoever may think I'm here to smash the public coffers has the wrong premier," he added.

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