Roberto Monaldo, Lapresse) ITALY OUT, Associated Press
MILAN — Premier Mario Monti has called a Cabinet meeting in Rome on Sunday to approve emergency austerity and growth measures aimed at saving the euro currency from collapse, his office said in a statement.
The premier, an economist who once was an EU commissioner, is under extreme pressure to come up with speedy and credible measures that will persuade markets to stop betting against the common currency.
The meeting was originally scheduled for Monday, when Monti is also expected to outline the measures to both houses of Parliament on Monday.
The premier has been briefing political parties, unions, business groups and consumer lobbies on his plans over the weekend.
Monti hasn't disclosed details of his rescue plan, but has said it includes both austerity cuts and measures to boost growth in Italy's anemic economy. He has promised it would be socially equitable, and that it would go after those who hadn't paid their share of taxes before
Italian borrowing costs have spiked, which could spell disaster if Italy is unable to keep up on payments to service its enormous debt of €1.9 trillion ($2.57 trillion), or 120 percent of its GDP.
Unlike Greece, Portugal and Ireland, which got bailouts after their borrowing rates skyrocketed, the eurozone's third-largest economy is considered to be too big to bail out. An Italian default would be disastrous for the 17-member eurozone and reverberate throughout the global economy.
The head of Italy's industrial lobby said Sunday that the survival of the common euro currency depends on Italy's coming up with very strong austerity and growth measures — followed by a concerted effort at the European level so that Italian sacrifices are not in vain.
The various parties briefed have said the package likely includes reinstating an unpopular home property tax abolished by Berlusconi, raising the sales tax and the income tax at the highest brackets by a few percentage points, and requiring Italians to work more than the 40 years now needed to receive a pension.
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