Italian PM’s budget bill wins confidence vote ahead of key referendum

Rome, Nov 25 (IANS/AKI) Italy’s centre-left Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Friday won a parliamentary confidence vote on the budget bill, just over a week before a crucial referendum on reforming the country’s political machinery.

Lawmakers in parliament’s lower house backed the bill by 348 in favour to 144 against in a vote aimed at speeding up passage of the 2017 budget which raises spending on health and pensions.

The budget plan averts a planned increase in value-added tax and allocates seven billion euros over the next three years to let people to retire earlier.

Italy has already clashed with the European Union over its expansionary budget which hikes the deficit target to 2.4 percent of gross domestic product this year, in excess of the 1.8 per cent agreed with Brussels in April.

Renzi has faced growing pressure ahead of the December 4 referendum on which he has staked his political future, and the anti-austerity budget is seen as a bid to galvanise support for his planned political reforms.

The 41-year-old premier has said he will resign if the referendum fails to pass.

–IANS/AKI

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