Arab Today, arab today berlusconi to address parliament after market closes
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Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Berlusconi to address parliament after market closes

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Berlusconi to address parliament after market closes

Milan - AFP

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has pushed back a speech in parliament aimed at stabilising the country\'s strained public finances until after the markets close on Wednesday. The premier will address the Chamber of deputies at 1530 GMT and the Senate at 1730 GMT instead of earlier in the afternoon, a government statement said. Berlusconi\'s decision to address parliament comes as Italy, the European Union\'s third-biggest economy, faces mounting pressure on the bond market, with investors concerned that it risks being ensnared in the expanding debt crisis. Italy\'s Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti met eurozone chief Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday morning for \"a long and fruitful discussion\" on Europe\'s debt crisis. Berlusconi has been criticised over the last year for neglecting the country\'s economic problems while he dedicates himself to his own legal woes, and Italians have looked to Tremonti to take the situation in hand. But the finance minister\'s reputation for rigid fiscal discipline has been hit by links to a scandal involving payments for a luxury apartment, forcing Berlusconi to break days of silence and step up. \"Just for once we ask the premier to think only of the country,\" wrote economist Ferruccio De Bortoli in the Corriere della Sera newspaper, adding: \"The least we can expect today is an indication of a concrete path to follow.\" Opposition parties have repeatedly appealed over the past week for Berlusconi to call early elections or hand over to a government of technocrats. \"There is no time to even contemplate technical governments or new majorities, at least for now,\" De Bortoli said. \"The house is on fire and -- before anything else -- we need to put it out.\" Berlusconi may take the opportunity to announce new measures to reassure the markets and relaunch the apathetic economy, following calls from the employers\' federation and trade unions last week for a \"pact for growth\". Pressure has remained intense on Italy -- which has one of the highest public debt levels in the world and one of the lowest economic growth rates in Europe -- despite wide-ranging budget austerity measures adopted last month. Chiara Corsa, economist at UniCredit, said she was \"sceptical Berlusconi will come up with a concrete agenda today,\" but hoped he would pledge to come back to parliament soon \"to present a concrete and bipartisan action plan.\" Among other things, she said Italy could reassure skittish markets by \"bringing forward at least part of the fiscal adjustment envisaged for 2013-2014 to next year.\" This would make the 47.9 billion euro (68.6 billion dollar) fiscal package approved earlier in July \"more credible,\" she added. A government source said Wednesday that Italy was trying to boost sales of its bonds in Asia where the head of the treasury is meeting investors and sovereign fund managers. The government also released nine billion euros for infrastructure projects largely in the impoverished south in an attempt to boost growth. The funds had already been earmarked, but had been waiting on approval from the economic planning committee (CIPE). The construction projects -- including a high-speed train line and extensive motorway works -- will give a \"strong impetus to the GDP and employment,\" said Infrastructure and Transport Minister Altero Matteoli. The released funds were \"proof that the government is acting with purpose to address the worst international economic and financial conjuncture of the post-war period,\" he said.

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