Spending review passes House, aims to save 26 billion euros

Includes cuts to health care, defence, public administration

Spending review passes House, aims to save 26 billion euros

(ANSA) - Rome, August 7 - The House on Tuesday gave definitive approval to the Italian government's spending review that aims to save 26 billion euros over the next three years. The package had already been approved by the Senate. The bill was passed with a confidence vote, with 371 MPs voting in favour, 86 against and 22 abstentions. 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 raising higher-education tuition fees, with university students behind in their coursework getting hit particularly hard. 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 threatened to stage a public-sector strike.

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