Rome

Letta upbeat on government prospects

Reforms will come to fruition, says premier

Letta upbeat on government prospects

(By Kate Carlisle) Rome, July 9 - Structural reforms must continue in Italy since they will ensure improvements in the country's economy, but the country is not in need of a European Union bailout, Premier Enrico Letta said on Tuesday. "Reforms already introduced will bring good results. I am sure that growth will arrive," Letta said in an interview with BBC's Radio 4. Italy is in the "forefront" in the EU for fiscal consolidation, the Italian premier said. Letta, who was sworn in on April 28 at the helm of a broad coalition government, has vowed to lift Italy out of its longest recession since World War II. Since taking office he has had to tackle trying to find a solution for the unpopular property tax called IMU, push for key reforms and attempt to smooth over internal battles threatening to destabilize his unprecedented left-right government. Despite internal rifts, Letta said that he remains "very confident about the future because we have a broad consensus in Parliament and in the country". However, Letta told the BBC that the Italian political system risks losing credibility if it is not reformed. One of Italy's main stumbling blocks is that there are "too many politicians and that they benefit from too many privileges," Letta said. "One of the main aims of our work is to reform Italian politics," said the premier. In one move towards reforming the country's top-heavy bureaucracy, last Friday the cabinet launched a bill to get rid of provincial administrations, widely seen as an unnecessary and expensive layer of administration. Eliminating the provinces would leave the central government to deal with the regions and municipalities without having to go through the provinces, cutting costs, employees and red tape. Letta, who will be in London July 16-17 to meet British Prime Minister David Cameron, will discuss, among other issues, the UK's membership in the EU. Cameron has said he wants Britain to stay in the EU, but only if it is reformed, and plans to hold a referendum on membership if he is re-elected at the next general election. "It's a good thing that Great Britain stays on board," Letta said at a G8 meeting in June. "The main issue (at the London meeting) will be how to tell the English that it's important for us that Great Britain remains in the EU. "The EU would not be better without Britain, on the contrary, it would be worse". "We need a different European Union and I'm sure Italy and the United Kingdom could share many reforms, many changes and many ideas for the future of Europe," Letta told the BBC.

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