Italy PM spokesman warns Treasury officials to find welfare funds or face sack
(Please note language in third paragraph)
MILAN, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Italy's prime ministerial
spokesman has warned that the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement
will sack Treasury officials in a "mega-vendetta" if they fail
to find the resources needed for welfare spending.
Spokesman Rocco Casalino's comments, made in a leaked audio
with an unidentified journalist, come as Italy's populist
government draws up its first budget amid rising tension over
"If in the end they tell us 'ah we couldn't find the money'
then we'll devote the whole of 2019 to getting rid of all these
pieces of shit at the (Treasury)," Casalino said in the
recording, in which he asks to be quoted as a parliamentary
"A mega-vendetta is ready," he said.
On Friday, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte met senior
ministers to try to resolve the impasse over the budget between
the ruling parties and Economy Minister Giovanni Tria, an
academic who does not belong to either of the ruling parties and
is resisting their plans to boost spending.
The fiscal plan is expected to include a series of
expenditure commitments including a minimum income for the poor,
which 5-Star is championing.
Casalino, who has not commented directly on the recording,
said Tria was not the problem, instead blaming the resistance of
long-serving and influential officials at the Treasury.
In a statement on Saturday, 5-Star's spokeswoman in
parliament's lower house, Mirella Liuzzi, said Casalino's words
reflected the views of everyone in the movement.
But cabinet undersecretary Giancarlo Giorgetti, asked about
the comments at a conference in northern Italy, said it depended
on whether the spokesman had the power to remove officials.
"I don't think he does," he said.
Leader of the opposition Partito Democratico Maurizio
Martina said the spokesman's words were unheard of. "If Conte
has the minimum of institutional sense he will remove him
immediately," he said in a tweet.
The government has signaled it will seek leeway from the EU
to increase the budget deficit in 2019 so it can spend on
measures aimed at boosting economic growth.
Earlier on Saturday the head of the Bank of Italy said any
increase in deficit spending that did not boost structural
economic growth could put Italy's debt on an unsustainable
(Reporting by Stephen Jewkes and Giulio Piovaccari
Editing by Helen Popper)
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