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Berlusconi Cabinet to Call Confidence Vote on Austerity Plan

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi called a Cabinet meeting today to authorize a confidence vote in Parliament on an amended 45.5 billion-euro ($64.5 billion) austerity plan that prompted a general strike.

The meeting at 6 p.m. in Rome will pave the way for a vote on the measures, which will include raising the value-added tax rate by one percentage point to 21 percent, a 3 percent levy on incomes of more than 500,000 euros a year as well as an increase in the retirement age of women in the private sector starting in 2014, Berlusconi’s office said in an e-mailed statement.