Rome

Napolitano calls for fairness in govt spending review

'Socially balanced choices' needed in 26-billion-euro cuts

Napolitano calls for fairness in govt spending review

(ANSA) - Rome, August 14 - Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Tuesday called on the government to make "socially balanced choices" in its 26-billion-euro spending review. In a letter Tuesday from Napolitano's secretary-general to the secretary to the Italian Premier Mario Monti, Napolitano asked the government to be fair in its application of the program that aims to cut billions from Italy's budget over the next three years. The package was passed earlier this month by both the House and the Senate. 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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