Monday, September 5, 2011

Italy pledges to meet debt goal as worries grow

Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti promised on Sunday to meet Italy's budget commitments after the European Central Bank stepped up pressure for action by the struggling center-right government.

Tremonti, under mounting pressure to present a credible plan to fulfill a pledge of balancing the budget by 2013 and cutting Italy's 1.9 trillion euro debt pile, told a business conference in the northern town of Cernobbio that the target would be met.

However he admitted that a hastily put-together package of measures presented to parliament in August and now undergoing substantial revision, had been incomplete.

"When you take measures in four days you can make mistakes, it's true," he told a conference discussion.

The annual Ambrosetti forum in Cernobbio on the shores of Lake Como this weekend brought growing doubts about the 45.5 billion euro austerity package to a head following a week of rising market pressure on Italian government bonds.

Both ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet and Italy's head of state, President Giorgio Napolitano issued strong calls for swift action following widespread criticism of the haphazard way in which the plan was being handled. more