ROME Dec 19 The government will seek
parliament's approval to hike Italy's debt by up to 20 billion
euros ($20.80 billion) if state money is needed to rescue
failing banks, Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said on Monday.
Italy is widely expected to have to step in to save Monte
dei Paschi di Siena, which must raise 5 billion euros
in fresh capital by the end of the year or face being wound
down. However, sources have told Reuters that the government is
also preparing to pump cash in a number of other ailing banks.
The cabinet needs parliamentary authorisation to lift
national debt levels before stepping in to help any banks.
Gentiloni told reporters he hoped lawmakers would back the
request of his government, which only took office last week.
($1 = 0.9615 euros)
(Reporting by Crispian Balmer)