(By Christopher Livesay) Rome, February 27 - In one of Matteo Renzi's first big tests as premier on Thursday, sparks flew between him and Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino, who warned the city risked coming to a grinding halt over a budget shortfall he blamed on the national government after it dropped measures to help the capital's cash-strapped council. Marino upped the stakes by noting that the ceremony for the canonisation of popes John Paul II and John XXII on April 27 was at risk. "I'll halt the city from Sunday," Marino told the Mix24 radio station. "The politicians are lucky because they have chauffeur-driven cars, but the Romans won't be able to move around. People will have to fend for themselves". The government announced Wednesday that it was dropping the so-called Save Rome decree, which was passed by the administration of Renzi's predecessor Enrico Letta. This was because it had been hit by obstructionism from opposition parties and was not on course to be passed within the two-month time limit from its approval by the cabinet. Late in the day, Renzi, whose government was sworn in Saturday and passed confidence votes in parliament Tuesday, vowed his cabinet would approve a decree Friday granting provisions to Rome and cash-strapped local bodies such as Milan Expo 2015 and for Sardinia after recent floods. In the same breath he chided the capital's mayor for his outspoken concerns. "I invite everyone to use different language. Marino's motives were understandable, his tone wasn't," Renzi, Italy's youngest premier at 39, told a meeting of his center-left Democratic Party (PD). Throughout the day Marino, a member of the PD, urged the government to move fast in a media blitz that was at times critical of the nascent government. "It has to clearly say whether it is giving us the legislative tools to solve the problem once and for all. "Rome must be able to spend the money it has and only that. It's no longer time for chatting, its time for deeds". "In March there won't be money to pay 25,000 city employees, to pay for fuel for the buses, to keep the nurseries open, to collect rubbish or to organise the canonization of the two popes, an event of a planetary scale," he said. Marino, who has said he would quit rather than oversee the capital move towards a default, also argued that he was not asking for charity from central government, but for the city's rights to be respected. "The money for what you journalists call the Save Rome decree is the money of Romans' taxes," he said. "The Italian government must give it back to us. It belongs to Rome". A previous version of the Save Rome decree was abandoned by Letta's executive after President Giorgio Napolitano expressed doubts about its Constitutionality, as many measures unrelated to the main thrust of the legislation had been tacked on.
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