ROME – Italy’s government said on Friday it was remaining steadfast in its intention of reaching a deficit of 2.4 percent of its GDP forecast in the 2019 budget and dismissed the notion of the European Commission imposing any sanctions for exceeding the permissible deficit limit allowed by Brussels.
Both the Italian economy minister and the deputy prime minister-cum-labor minister defended the deficit goal and said at two different events that they would maintain their commitment to an expansive budget, although they would do everything in their power to prevent the 2.4-percent limit from being surpassed.
Deputy PM and Labor Minister Luigi di Maio said that the EC’s autumn forecast for Italy, which predicts a deficit of 2.9 percent of the GDP for 2019 and 3.1 percent for 2020, was wrong.
Di Maio added that Italy was saddled from the get-go with a 2-percent deficit “without doing anything” and that the additional 0.4 percent would go towards public investments in infrastructure and human capital to make the country’s economy grow.
“At this point in time, there is no forecast of a fine for Italy,” Di Maio told a meeting of foreign correspondents. “I believe in dialogue with Brussels.”
He said that his government was prepared to guarantee that the 2.4-percent target would not be exceeded through cuts to what he described as non-productive State expenditures.
Meanwhile, Economy Minister Giovanni Tria told lawmakers at the lower house of parliament’s budget committee that the government would reaffirm the fundamental pillars of its budget in its formal reply to the EC.
The European executive has given Italy a deadline until next Tuesday to send a revised draft budget for 2019 after ruling that the first proposal clearly contravened the structural adjustments demanded by Brussels.