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Merkel lauds Monti reforms

'Impressive structural moves' German chancellor says

24 November, 15:41
Merkel lauds Monti reforms (see previous story on site) (ANSA) - Strasbourg, November 24 - German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday lauded Italian Premier Mario Monti's programme of reforms aimed at cutting debt and boosting growth.

"Monti showed us the plans and it was very impressive to see the structural reforms," Merkel told a three-way press conference here with Monti and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Monti has yet to unveil his programme but the Italian media has reported he will proposes "packages" of austerity moves offset by growth-boosting measures.

When he took office Monti vowed to hit those "who have not paid so far," indicating a more equitable tax system.

Among the structural reforms mooted are reforms to Italy's pension system and labour market to get more young people and women into steady jobs.

The premier is also widely expected to reintroduce a tax on first homes eliminated by his predecessor Silvio Berlusconi and try to pass some form of wealth tax, although this measure is opposed by Berlusconi's party, the biggest in parliament.

Monti reiterated that Italy would meet its goal of balancing the budget in 2013 and would generate a "substantial primary surplus the following year.

He stressed it must "make special efforts because of the huge stock of debt it has built up in the past", which has not strayed far from 120% of GDP, the second-biggest in the eurozone after Greece's, in the last 10 years.

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