Monti warns of Greek-style risk to Italy

Mon Dec 5, 2011 6:11pm EST
 
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By Gavin Jones and Steve Scherer

ROME (Reuters) - Italy risked a Greek-style economic collapse which could threaten the future of the euro without the austerity package approved by the government, Prime Minister Mario Monti said on Monday, calling on European partners to do their part.

Monti's announcement of the plan on Sunday kicked off one of the most crucial weeks since the launch of the euro more than a decade ago, ending with a summit of European leaders in Brussels on Thursday and Friday to seek a wider set of crisis measures.

"If Italy were not capable of reversing the negative spiral of growth in debt and restoring confidence to international markets, there would be dramatic consequences, which could go as far as putting the survival of the common currency at risk," Monti told parliament.

"Italy is ready to do what it has to do but Europe must not fail to do its part," he said.

The package, dubbed a "Save Italy" decree by Monti, aims to raise more than 10 billion euros ($13.4 billion) from a property tax, impose a new levy on luxury items like yachts, raise value added tax, crack down on tax evasion and increase the pension age.

"Without this package, we think that Italy would have collapsed, that Italy would go into a situation similar to that of Greece," Monti told foreign journalists before heading to parliament to present the package to lawmakers.

He acknowledged the measures would weigh on Italy's fragile economy which most analysts say is already in recession, but said without action the consequences would have been much worse.

Adding to ongoing pressure on Italy to carry out swift reforms, Standard & Poor's warned it could lower its credit rating in an unprecedented mass downgrade of euro zone countries if EU leaders fail to resolve the debt crisis.   Continued...