In Italy, Giorgia Meloni’s setbacks on the budget

Time is running out for the government of Giorgia Meloni on the budgetary front. As the process that should culminate before the end of the year with the adoption of the finance law for 2023, the symbolic promises made to the electorate by the ruling coalition, dominated by the extreme right, continue to be dispel.

In place since October only, the Italian executive will have had only a few weeks to develop a draft budget. In the Chamber of Deputies, the text was still subject to adjustments in committee on Tuesday, December 20. However, it already seems clear that the desire of a government barely out of the polls to assert its identity through strong measures has given way to the need to keep a low profile for the time being to preserve its relations with Brussels.

A measure on cash payment

The latest setback by the right-wing majority is the abandonment of a measure favoring the use of cash to the detriment of electronic payments. Having become emblematic and targeting the electorate represented by small Italian entrepreneurs, this project consisted of relaxing the fines imposed on merchants who refuse to accept payment by credit card.

Far from being anecdotal and vigorously defended by Matteo Salvini, the vice-president of the Council from the League (extreme right), whose speech regularly takes on Poujadist accents, the measure became during the month of December the focal point debates on the budget, before suddenly disappearing from the finance bill. It was on Sunday that the Italian Minister of Economy and Finance, himself from the League, Giancarlo Giorgetti, announced his abandonment.

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“The abandonment of the cash payment measure says a lot about the constraints that weigh on this government in economic matters, says Paolo Pizzoli, an economist specializing in Italy. Although made up of parties with an originally Eurosceptic profile, the executive knows that the support of the European Union will be essential to its economic success and that Brussels should not be challenged. » Earlier, the European Commission, while welcoming the general balance of a budget which provides for a 4.5% deficit, had issued a warning to Rome on the question of cash payments.

“The Italian government walks on a narrow path between display demagogy and real pragmatism”, Wolfango Piccoli, vice-president of the economic analysis firm Teneo Intelligence

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