Renzi Pledges Privatizations, No Tax Rises as Growth Picks Up

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi pledged to forge ahead with privatizations and spare Italians any tax increases this year as his government revised growth estimates upward.

“We’ve already netted a few billions” from selling off state assets, Renzi told reporters on Tuesday, outlining a three-year budget plan which he said would be approved by the cabinet on Friday. “We will continue with the program.”

Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan said privatizations would net a sum equaling 1.7 percent to 1.8 percent of gross domestic product spread through 2018. Italy’s general government debt was 2.17 trillion euros ($2.35 trillion) as of January, among the largest in Europe.

“The latest operation was Enel, in the meantime we are working intensely on the Poste which is very ambitious and naturally there are other entries in progress, Ferrovie dello Stato, Enav, etc,” Padoan said, naming companies in which the government has a stake.

Italy in February sold a stake worth 2.2 billion euros in Enel SpA, the country’s largest utility.

Renzi said the economy would grow by 0.7 percent in 2015 and 1.4 percent in 2016. Padoan said the deficit-to-GDP ratio would be at 2.6 percent this year and 1.8 percent in 2016.

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