Italian senate passes €30 billion austerity package

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti

The Italian senate has approved in a 257 to 41 vote a 30 billion (US$39 billion or £25 billion) austerity package that Italian prime minister Mario Monti has called the "Save Italy Decree". The measures had previously passed in the Chamber of Deputies, Italy's lower house, with a 402 to 75 vote.

The economic changes include raising the retirement and state pension age, the reintroduction of a local housing tax, spending cuts on health, and a ban on cash transactions over €1,000 (US$1,300 or £830) to prevent tax evasion.

Monti told the Senate before the vote: "Our country's credibility is essential to overcome the crisis, just as it's also essential for our economy to return to growth". The economic reforms have been supported by the People of Freedom, the political party of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

However, Umberto Bossi from the Lega Nord party attacked the plans, claiming "[i]t's got too many taxes and above all, it doesn't create jobs." Trade unions are also expected to oppose the changes.