Italy’s new premier vows to work on radical choices

Rome, Feb 25: Italy’s new Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in his first speech in the Senate to ask to vote confidence in his government Monday said his group will work on “radical” choices to give fresh life to troubled Italy.

Renzi said he aimed at his coalition government to be a “turning point” for Italy based on concrete and timely reforms in step with the country’s huge potentials and leading role in the European Union (EU), Xinhua reported.

His first pledge, Renzi said at the beginning of his speech, will be starting rebuilding trust from school students, because “education is the engine of growth”.

Not only Italy was struggling to exit a dramatic recession that has eroded nine percentage points of its economy and has led unemployment to 12.6 percent, but its political class has destroyed the confidence of citizens who love their country, he noted.

It was unacceptable, Renzi added, that international investors were reluctant to invest in a country that is the hometown of creativity and innovation and whose cultural heritage make it a “global superpower”.

Renzi, who at 39 is the youngest-ever prime minister in Italy, stressed he was the very first concrete example that Italy’s young generations can achieve unimaginable results if they work wholeheartedly.

“From Wednesday, I will visit a school throughout Italy every week,” he said. The new prime minister is married to a school teacher, with whom he has three children.

Then Renzi outlined the plan of the most urgent economic and institutional reforms that he aims to introduce before Italy starts duty presidency of the EU in the second half of this year.

The government investment and loan fund would be used to repay all public debts to businesses which are “mired in a stifling bureaucracy”, Renzi said adding that the system in which senior public officials have management jobs for life must cease.

Another central initiative, he stressed, will be “irreversible double-digit reductions” of labour and income taxes to tackle unemployment and revive the economy. Meanwhile guarantee funds will be implemented to make credit accessible to small and medium-sized companies.

Parliamentary reforms on the agenda in March including abolishing provincial governments, reducing the number of MPs in parliament and stripping the Senate from its lawmaking powers will require changes to the Italian Constitution.

Renzi said he would respect a deal reached with the opposition to quickly introduce a much-needed new electoral law. He finally pledged to speed and simplify by the end of June the Italian slow-moving justice system.

Italy needed to “get its house in order” not for the EU but for the respect of its historical role in the single currency area and above all for its young generations, Renzi said.

If parliament recognised the fundamental importance of his “innovative vision” and “bold frankness”, his government would be able to revive Italy, Renzi said. “But if we loose this challenge, it will be my fault entirely, there will be no excuse,” the prime minister stressed.

The Renzi government, which is composed by 16 ministers with the record-low average age of around 47, was expected to win the first of two confidence votes in parliament Monday night. The second vote was set to take place in the lower chamber Tuesday.

IANS