Italian Employers Urge Berlusconi to Take Pro-Growth Measures

Italy’s business leaders called on Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to push through measures to boost economic growth, saying he’s run out of time to restore international investors’ confidence in the country.

“The situation is more and more difficult and the confidence in our country is quickly falling, despite Italy’s undeniable strengths,” business leaders including the president of the Confindustria employers’ lobby, Emma Marcegaglia, and the head of the ABI banking association, Giuseppe Mussari, said today in an e-mailed statement. “Italy has the resources to get back on its feet, but there’s no time left.”

Standard & Poor’s Investor Service cut Italy’s credit rating last month for the first time in five years, citing high debt, weak economic growth and a “fragile” government. Italy is trying to tackle rising borrowing costs that prompted the European Central Bank to buy its bonds to try to stem contagion from the region’s debt crisis.

“We trust your government is willing to implement all the initiatives needed to deal with the seriousness of the present time,” the business leaders said in the statement, an open letter to the premier.

Italy has had average annual growth of 0.9 percent since Berlusconi was elected to his first of three terms in 1994, compared with 1.6 percent for the euro region as a whole.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lorenzo Totaro in Rome at ltotaro@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net

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