Italy’s PM Conte Praises ‘Robust’ Economy On Russia Visit
Italian premier Giuseppe Conte on Wednesday boasted of the “robust” Italian economy during a visit to Moscow as his government is crossing swords with Brussels over Rome’s 2019 budget.
“Let’s be certain that the fundamentals of our economy are strong, our economy is robust and we only need to go forward. The government will do its part” to help businesses, Conte told an Italian-Russian business council in Moscow.
“We are the second manufacturing power in Europe, we are probably the country which has the strongest fabric of micro and small businesses, and we are proud of this,” he said.
The populist prime minister, who visits Russia just days after his far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini, also met President Vladimir Putin Wednesday and invited him to visit Italy.
“We have a great team — the government, the institutions, the businessmen, the workers. We have to play as a team,” he said.
“In the (2019) budget, we pay attention also to the decrease of taxes, because we take into account that cost of labour in Italy has increased over time and weighs on our competitiveness,” he said, adding that Italy should “hold all the cards to free its potential.”
The populist coalition in Italy on Tuesday denied any modification to its next year budget despite the rejection of the document by the European Commission, an unprecedented move in the history of the European Union.
Salvini, head of the far-right Ligue and a strongman in the coalition government with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) on Wednesday dug his heels on the budget.
“They would want us to cut the funds for health, for disability, for the right to education,” he told Italian radio station RTL. “There’s no way. If they continue inflicting random blows, it makes me want to give the Italian people more money.”