Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s controversial budget plan gets approval

A new budget law proposed by the Italian government led by Giorgia Meloni was approved on Thursday, after winning a vote of confidence in both houses of parliament.

The President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella signed the 2023 budget on Thursday evening. The package was approved by the Senate in the morning, and by the Chamber of Deputies last week.

The maneuver brings next year’s deficit to 4.5% of gross domestic product from the 3.4% forecast in September, allocating over 21 billion euros in tax breaks and bonuses to help businesses and households deal with the energy crisis.

Among other measures, the bill lowers the retirement age, offers tax incentives to encourage permanent hiring, and includes 12 tax amnesties that allow individuals and businesses to recover missed payments through reduced penalties.

Parts of the plan have proved highly controversial among Meloni’s detractors, who said it failed to address the country’s structural problems and that his pro-cash policy – raising the payment limit from €2,000 to €5,000 – could empower to criminals.

“[The government] he has not fulfilled his election promises,” said centrist leader Carlo Calenda. “He didn’t even know how to worthily manage the presentation and approval of the budget law”.

However, the ruling right-wing coalition has refuted claims that a higher payment limit would facilitate tax evasion and sees this as a way to boost the economy and cut red tape.

Another source of criticism was an unexpected amendment to the bill, which would allow wild boar hunting – a common and unwelcome sight on the streets of the Italian capital – to be hunted in cities.

Despite these controversies, the right-wing coalition’s comfortable parliamentary majority meant that the risk of a budget rejection remained extremely small.

Finally, the opposition parties complained about the time allowed to parliament to review the budget plans, unveiled for the first time in November, considering them insufficient and hasty.

In response, the government said it had no alternative because snap elections in Italy in September had drastically shortened the typical period taken to craft and discuss the package.

“I am satisfied”, said Economy Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti, who said that the maneuver respects the wishes of the voters and has “obtained the approval of the European markets and institutions, and now, even more importantly, of the parliament”.

In an online year-end speech released on Friday, Meloni also expressed her satisfaction with the budget and its approval, despite the severe time constraints her government has been facing.

“[It’s] a budget plan that I am proud of”, said the premier. “I am happy… [because] we were able to approve it in advance”.

“It is an important sign of the stability of the majority that supports this government,” he added.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *