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Italian report Italian report
by Euro Reporter
2010-07-18 07:05:53
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Berlusconi wins confidence vote

The Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has won a vote of confidence on an unpopular 25 billion Euro (32 billion dollars) austerity package. The two year plan was approved by 170 votes to 136 in the upper house of the parliament, and the Senate, where Berlusconi has a comfortable majority. The package must now be voted on in the lower house of the Italian Parliament before the end of the month. Berlusconi has said that his government will resign if it fails to get the second vote of confidence in the lower house. However, he has a comfortable majority there as well.

Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti said “It went through very well”. Tremonti is also the architect of the package. The package is aimed at lowering debts and containing budget deficits. It includes delaying of retirement dates by three to six months, a state salary freeze and pay cuts for high public sector earners. In 2011 and 2012 there will be a cut in spending by all government ministries.

The package has faced fierce criticism since its details became public. Tens of thousands of protestors marched on streets in Rome and many other cities in a strike called by the country’s largest trade union.


The heat wave

The warnings are issued when temperatures are forecast to surpass 35 degrees in conditions of high humidity to make the perceived level of heat even greater.  When this happens, the local authorities are called on to take special measures and precautions are recommended to protect those most at risk: the elderly, newborns and people with respiratory or cardiovascular problems.

These include staying indoors during the hottest hours of the day, drinking plenty of liquids and eating fruit and vegetables.  The health ministry activated a new emergency hotline, 1500, earlier on Friday to enable people to get help if they are in difficulty and obtain information on how to cope with the sizzling temperatures. The heat is forecast to relent a little at the start of next week, although temperatures are likely to remain high.


Two Million Households in Poverty

During 2009, 2.657 million families in Italy were living in relative poverty. This represents 10.8% of resident households, or 7.81 million individuals, or 13.1% of the entire population. The figures are practically unchanged from 2008, since the impact of the economic crisis has been buffered by unemployment and family benefits, but the situation is worsening among blue-collar workers and in the south. Conditions for poor families in southern Italy are deteriorating and absolute poverty, which indicates the poorest of the poor, is on the rise among the working class.

According to the figures published by the national statistics institute ISTAT, in 2009 there were 1,162,000 families, or 4.7% of the total, in absolute poverty for a total of 3.074 million indigent Italians, or 5.2% of the entire population. Levels of relative and absolute poverty were substantially stable in comparison with 2008, both nationally and in the various categories. The threshold of relative poverty for a two-person household is equal to average monthly expenditure per person, which in 2009 was €983.01, a drop of 1.7% with respect to 2008’s threshold. The incidence of absolute poverty is calculated on the basis of a poverty threshold corresponding to the minimum monthly expenditure necessary to purchase the basket of goods and services which are considered essential for a family to be able enjoy a barely acceptable quality of life in the Italian context.

The south of Italy confirmed the high incidence of poverty recorded in 2008 (22.7% relative poverty; 7.7% absolute poverty). The intensity of absolute poverty rose from 17.3% to 18.8% because while the number of absolutely poor families is almost exactly the same, their average condition has worsened. The incidence of absolute poverty rose in 2009 over 2008 from 5.9% to 6.9% for blue-collar families but the incidence of relative poverty for the same group rose only in central Italy, from 7.9% to 11.3%. Nationally, the incidence of poverty fell for households headed by a self-employed worker, from 11.2% to 8.7% for relative poverty and from 4.5% to 3% for absolute poverty, with a greater concentration in northern Italy.

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