Govt puts 'to do' decree to confidence vote

Obstruction expected, opposition parties blast move

Govt puts 'to do' decree to confidence vote

Rome, July 23 - Premier Enrico Letta's government said Tuesday that it was putting its 'to do' decree of urgent moves to help revive the Italian economy and lift it out of recession to a confidence vote in the Lower House. Relations with Parliament Minister Dario Franceschini said a confidence vote was necessary to speed the measure through parliament after hundreds of amendments were presented. As a decree, the legislation is already law but it needs to be ratified within two months of being passed by the cabinet to stay in effect. The confidence vote will take place at 11:30 Italian time on Wednesday. Letta's fragile left-right executive will collapse if it fails to win the confidence vote. "Parliament has a complicated schedule before the summer recess," said Franceschini. "If we tackled a vote with 800 amendments to the decree, we won't have time to do everything". The decree frees up around three billion euros for public works projects this year, which should create 30,000 temporary construction jobs. The measure also cuts energy bills by a total of 550 million euros, in part by slashing a tax to finance renewable energy initiatives. Opposition parties blasted the decision to put the decree to a confidence vote. Ciccio Ferrara of the left-wing SEL party said the government was making this move to impose discipline and "hide the cracks" in the governing coalition, which us made up of Letta's centre-right Democratic Party (PD) and ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party. The PD and the PdL were long-standing bitter rivals until they decided to work together to form a government in April after two months of deadlock following February's general election. Riccardo Fraccaro, an MP for the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, said the confidence vote was the "umpteenth slap against parliament" as it limits debate of the legislation. Last month Letta's passed its first confidence-vote test in parliament when a decree on environmental emergencies was overwhelming approved by the Lower House. Letta also considered as a confidence vote Friday's rejection by the Senate of a no-confidence motion in Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Angelino Alfano over the controversial expulsion of the wife and daughter of a Kazakh dissident. Alfano is the PdL secretary and Berlusconi's party would probably have pulled the plug on the government if the motion had been approved.

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