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Monti Reiterates Budget-Rigor Goal as He Pushes Plan for Growth

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said his government must remain focused on budget discipline as it set out a plan for policies to stimulate economic growth.

The government will focus on debt reduction and asset sales in the coming months as it puts together measures to boost competition, bring down energy costs and support start-up companies, Monti’s Cabinet said late yesterday in an e-mailed statement after a meeting in Rome.

“There is no chance of growth if public finances are not under control,” Economic Development Minister Corrado Passera told reporters after the meeting. “We have found, once again, that each minister has ways to contribute both to the goal of discipline and the goal of growth.”

Monti, who imposed austerity in the first half of his 18-month term, is calling on ministers to formulate policies to pull Italy out of its fourth recession since 2001. Since taking over from Silvio Berlusconi in November, he has reined in Italy’s deficit and lowered borrowing costs through a program that included tax increases on fuel, real estate and luxury goods.

Passera didn’t say when the new government measures to stimulate the economy would be finalized.

“We’ll talk about it,” he said when asked about the timing. “There will be occasions to do it.”

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