Saturday, February 23, 2019 | ePaper

Lagarde calls for Italian 'discipline' on budget

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AFP, Nusa Dua, Indonesia :
IMF chief Christine Lagarde said on Thursday that Italy must abide by EU budgetary norms on fiscal discipline amid concerns the country's 2019 spending could exacerbate its financial problems. "I will remind all of us that, when you are a member of a club and you decide to stay in that club… then you play by the rules of the club," Lagarde said at the International Monetary Fund's annual meetings in Bali.
"When it comes to financial affairs, that certainly applies to the Italian commitment in terms of fiscal discipline."
European Commissioner for Economic Affairs Pierre Moscovici echoed concerns about Italy's spending plans.
"It's a budget that risks deviating significantly from European norms," he told AFP in an interview at the IMF meetings.
He added that there were "two pitfalls" to avoid: a clash between Rome and Brussels over spending and any member state ignoring accepted norms. "Italy is at the heart of the eurozone," Moscovici said. "It is in the eurozone's interest that Italy be strong and it's in Italy's interest to be a nation that respects common rules."
The Italian government insisted on Wednesday that it would stick to budget forecasts despite a jump in borrowing costs sparked by nervous bond investors, and concerns over the numbers underlying its spending plan.
Late Tuesday, the Italian parliament's budget office (UPB), which is charged with verifying whether the government's spending and revenue plans meet EU limits, rejected the forecasts used in the 2019 budget as too optimistic.
The government bases its budget on 1.5 percent growth, while the UPB expects growth to reach between 1.1 and 1.3 percent, and the International Monetary Fund only sees an expansion of around 1.0 percent.

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