Monti under fire over austerity measures

Updated: 2011-12-15 09:39


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Monti under fire over austerity measures

Members of Northern League Party hold placards to protest against austerity package as Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti addresses the upper house of parliament in Rome December 14, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]

ROME - Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti was under fire while explaining his austerity measures at parliament on Wednesday despite modification of the plan.

According to ANSA news agency, the hearing was temporarily suspend after lawmakers of the Northern League party jeered Monti with banners showing "No More Taxes" and "This is not a budget, it's a Robbery."

Pierluigi Bersani, the leader of the main centre-left Democratic Party, said Wednesday he was "amazed at the government's weakness over the issue of liberalisation" after it failed to follow through on moves targeting taxi drivers and pharmacies.

Consumer associations Adusbef and Federconsumatori said that the average family will be 1,129 euros worse off because of Monti's "Save Italy" package and 3,160 euros poorer when previous measures passed by Berlusconi's government this year are factored in.

Among the changes Monti government has made is a 400-euro discount for big families on a reintroduced property tax, while current accounts holding less than 5,000 euros will be exempt from a new 34-euro levy. And pensions below 1,400 euros will still be index-linked, moving in line with inflation, unlike higher pensions. The government has also announced a 15 percent tax on annual pension above 200,000 euros.

However, Monti's measures were endorsed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a speech in the Bundestag on Wednesday. She prased Italy's efforts to steer itself out of its debt crisis and do its bit to save the euro.

The German leader also expressed satisfaction at the "important saving measures and structural reforms" Monti is pushing through parliament in Rome.