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Hundreds of Italian mayors threaten to resign to protest gov't budget-cutting plans

(Xinhua)

09:45, November 22, 2012

MILAN, Italy, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of Italian mayors on Wednesday threatened to resign in protest at the budget-cutting plans of Prime Minister Mario Monti's government.

Some 500 mayors, including the heads of important cities such as Milan, Rome, Turin and Venice, took to the streets in Milan, carrying banners that read "Let's write a new pact for growth."

The mayors, belonging to the National Association of Italian Municipalities (ANCI), warned the Minister for Relations with Parliament Piero Giarda of mass resignations if the "Stability Law," or the budget bill aimed to plug public spending holes, is not changed.

The package, which features a series of cuts hitting sectors including health and education, won three confidence votes in the parliament lower chamber on Wednesday, and is now expected to go through the Senate, or the upper chamber, approval by the end of the year.

The Stability Law plans a 1-percent hike in the value-added tax and a reduction in tax deductions for the current tax year.

It also includes over 1 billion euros (1.28 billion U.S. dollars) in health spending cuts, but the Monti technocratic cabinet has said it could consider some changes.

ANCI has complained that its members will be forced to raise municipal taxes to ensure essential services including health care in times that the Italian families are struggling to make a living amid deepening recession.

According to a study by business association Confesercenti released earlier this week, in 2012, the average household's tax bill will be 1,450 euros higher than it was last year.

The study said the austerity measures carried out so far by the emergency government to put a lid on the debt crisis have taken the Italian overall tax burden up to 44.7 percent, 5 percent higher than the European average.

As a result of dented spending power, the number of Italian households who say they cannot afford a meat or fish dish more than every two days rose this year to 12.3 percent from 6.7 percent in 2011, according to a survey conducted by national statistics institute Istat. (1 euro = 1.28 U.S. dollars)