Senate approves 26-billion-euro spending review

Labor unions promise strike, announcement Wednesday

Senate approves 26-billion-euro spending review

(ANSA) - Rome, July 31 - The Senate on Tuesday approved the Italian government's spending review that aims to save 26 billion euros over the next three years. The confidence vote passed with 217 ayes, 40 nays and four abstentions. The bill, which now goes before the House, has been hotly contested for its broad cuts to the public sector. The cuts, which among other things aim to avert a 2% increase in VAT scheduled for October, include a 10% reduction of staff and 20% reduction of managers in Italy's large public administration, as well as trimming benefits. The bill includes cuts to health-care spending and defence, slashing chauffeured cars for public officials and penalizing university students behind in their coursework by hiking tuition. The International Monetary Fund has called the plan "a step in the right direction" that will help Italy's budget in the short term, but added that deeper measures would be necessary to "reinforce prospects for the medium term". Labor unions have called the cuts "a meat cleaver" and have promised to announce a general strike on Wednesday.

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