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Italian report Italian report
by Euro Reporter
2012-02-24 07:46:28
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Italy’s Cabinet reveals financial information

Italy’s Cabinet ministers have posted a raft of financial information online in a show of transparency sought by Premier Mario Monti as he pushes through tough austerity measures. Several ministry websites crashed Tuesday as Italians rushed to find out information about who owns which car model, stock share and ski chalet.

Justice Minister Paola Severino, who before being named to Monti’s technical government in November was a successful attorney, reported euro7 million ($9.25 million) in income last year, and paid some euro4 million in taxes.

She said she fully supported Monti’s call for transparency. Monti is pushing through a new phase of austerity and growth measures designed to help Italy emerge from its debt woes that include efforts to crack down on tax evasion.


Italian austerity government full of millionaires

A website on which the ministers' assets and earnings were voluntarily divulged received so many hits that it temporarily crashed, as Italians rushed to see details of the new government's startling levels of personal wealth. Ministers were revealed to own multiple properties, including ski chalets in the Dolomites and apartments in New York. They zip around in Jaguars, Porsches and Mercedes and – in the case of the foreign minister – on a Harley Davidson motorbike. Details of their wealth were published as a gesture of transparency, but their extensive wealth surprised Italians at a time when the country is being asked to swallow cuts to salaries, pensions and services.

Topping the rich list was Paola Severino, the justice minister, who earned more than seven million Euros (£5.9 million) last year. A high-flying lawyer and university professor, the 63-year-old owns properties in Rome and Cortina d'Ampezzo, one of Italy's most chic ski resorts, and leases a 55 feet-long 'Acqua 54' yacht. "People who earn money and pay their taxes should not be considered sinners and should be respected, not envied," she said. The next richest member of the technical administration was Corrado Passera, the minister for economic development, who declared earnings of more than 3.5 million Euros in 2011. He previously served as the head of an Italian bank, Intesa Sanpaolo. Mario Monti, the prime minister, earned just over one million Euros last year and owns 16 properties, including apartments in Milan and a 50 per cent share in a flat in Brussels, where he spent years as a European Commissioner.

Mr Monti, a respected economist whose sober, modest manner contrasts sharply with the flamboyancy of his predecessor, Silvio Berlusconi, declared bonds and investments worth 11 million Euros. David Cameron, the Prime Minister, earns £142,500 a year while British MPs are paid £65,738, excluding expenses and allowances. The most unusual property portfolio belongs to Piero Giarda, the parliamentary affairs minister, who owns four timber and stone huts in the Alps. The ministers' ample wealth contrasts with the struggles of many ordinary Italians, who face rising unemployment and dismal economic prospects as the government tries to chip away at the country's 1.9 trillion euro debt. Around a third of young adults are unemployed. "We certainly can't say that this is a government of paupers," said Marco Reguzzoni from the Northern League party


Italy union to file dozens of lawsuits against Fiat

Italy's biggest metalworkers union, Fiom-CGIL, plans to file dozens of lawsuits against Fiat SpA (F.MI) in the latest development in its fight against a new labour contract at the car maker's factories in its home country. Fiom-CGIL will file 61 lawsuits in 20 courts across the country, accusing Fiat of discriminatory practices against its members and representatives, according to a statement Tuesday. "This will not be the only initiative that we will put forward," one of its leaders, Giorgio Airaudo, said in a statement. "If necessary we will go as far as the Constitutional Court to guarantee the right that the group's workers have to freely choose their representatives."

Fiom-CGIL expects a decision from the courts in about a month's time because of a request to fast-track the lawsuits. It is the only union that has refused to accept the contract, which came into effect Jan. 1 for both Fiat and its sister company, Fiat Industrial (FI.MI), a maker of tractors and trucks. Even before the contract came into effect, Fiom-CGIL waged a public campaign to have it repealed, saying it violated workers' rights by ignoring conditions already established under a national labour contract.

Its refusal to sign the contract stripped it of its right to have a presence on the factory floor, something it will contest in the lawsuits. Fiat signed the contract with the other unions after winning a series of referenda held by workers at a number of plants. It had demanded that they accept the contract, arguing that it needed to change conditions to improve productivity. It had also threatened to stop investing billions of Euros in the modernization of its plants if they rejected it. The first plant to apply the contract and have its assembly lines modernized is the facility at Pomigliano d'Arco near Naples where the new version of the Panda city car is being made.

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