• Italy prime minister vows radical change

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    ewly appointed Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi listens during a debate ahead of a confidence vote at the Italian Senate on Monday in Rome (Tuesday in Manila). AFP PHOTO

    Newly appointed Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi listens during a debate ahead of a confidence vote at the Italian Senate on Monday in Rome (Tuesday in Manila). AFP PHOTO

    ROME: Prime Minister Matteo Renzi called for a “radical and immediate change” in re–cession-hit Italy as he outlined his new government’s reform agenda before winning a crucial confidence vote in the Senate on Tuesday.

    In an energetic and impas–sioned speech to parliament, Italy’s youngest-ever  premier reiterated plans  for rapidly overhauling the  tax system, jobs market and public administration in a bid to tackle the country’s ailing economy.

    “If we lose this challenge the fault will be mine alone. No one has an alibi anymore,” the 39-year-old said as his fiery speech prompted jeers and insults from opposition benches.

    “This is an Italy of possibilities, an Italy of fundamental change,” he said, stressing the “urgency” of implementing reforms in “a rusty country . . . gripped by anxiety.”

    Renzi, who grasped power after helping oust his pre–decessor Enrico Letta over failures to do enough to boost a flagging economy, later won the vote of confidence, with 169 votes in favor and 139 against, according to Senate speaker Pietro Grasso.

    In his speech, he pledged to review unemployment benefits, establish a guarantee fund for small companies and comprehensively reform the justice system.

    He also promised to cut the tax burden by a double-digit figure within months and pay off public administration debts.

    The initial reaction from investors appeared positive, with Milan’s FTSE stock market closing up 0.48 percent after Renzi’s speech.

    AFP

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