October 30, 2018 / 11:33 AM / 15 days ago

Italy PM says weak GDP data justifies government's expansionary budget

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte speaks during a joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia October 24, 2018. Sergei Chirikov/Pool via REUTERS/Files

ROME (Reuters) - Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Tuesday that weak Italian economic data published earlier in the day showed the government was right to draw up an expansionary 2019 budget.

Speaking on Italian state television during a visit to India, Conte said data showing that gross domestic product stagnated in the third quarter had come as no surprise.

“The figures were expected, which is why we decided on an expansionary budget,” Conte said.

He reiterated that the government will not change its 2019 deficit target of 2.4 percent of GDP, despite a rejection from the European Commission which says the deficit is too high and has called on Rome to re-write its fiscal plans.

Reporting by Gavin Jones, editing by Giulia Segreti

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