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Italy Looking at Changes to 2019 Deficit Target

Italy Looking at Changes to 2019 Deficit Target

Italian Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini signaled a new openness to change the nation’s budget deficit target for next year, the focus of a standoff with Brussels over the populist government’s spending push to fund election promises.

Asked whether a 2.4 percent target is set in stone, Salvini told newswire AdnKronos: “I think nobody is fixated on this, if there is a budget which makes the country grow, it could be 2.2 percent or 2.6 percent.”

Salvini will meet with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Finance Minister Giovanni Tria and fellow Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio to discuss the budget on Monday, an official said, adding that figures being discussed in the media are baseless and that Tria may present different budget goals at the meeting. The country is examining changes to its 2019 deficit target, the official said.

“The problem is not about decimal points, it’s a question of seriousness and being concrete,” Salvini was cited as saying. The deputy premier said a pension reform to lower the retirement age, one of his key election campaign pledges, could come into force in February.

Armando Siri, an economic adviser to Salvini, said in an interview with newspaper Il Messaggero that “a little fine-tuning of the budget” can be evaluated to avoid an increase in turbulence in the markets. He said only some measures are subject to possible change, and voters expect campaign promises to be kept.