ROME, June 5 (Reuters) - Italy’s new prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, made his first address to parliament on Tuesday, seeking a confidence vote in the upper house Senate.
Highlights of his comments are below.
“Today we come before you to ask for your trust not only in a government team, but also in a project for the change of Italy.”
“I do not think this is simple novelty. The truth is that we have brought with us radical change, of which we are proud.”
“I take on this task with humility, but also with determination, with the awareness of my limits, but also with passion.”
“The political forces that make up this government have been accused of being ‘populist’ and ‘anti-system’ ... If ‘populism’ means the ruling class listens to the needs of the people ... (and) if ‘anti-system’ means to aim to introduce a new system, which removes old privileges and encrusted power, well these political forces deserve both these epithets.”
“We want to reduce the public debt, but we want to do it by increasing our wealth, not with austerity that, in recent years, has helped to make it (public debt) grow.”
“Italian public debt is fully sustainable today. However, its reduction must be pursued, but with a view to economic growth. Fiscal and public spending policy should be geared towards the pursuit of the objectives set for stable and sustainable growth.
“In Europe, these issues will be strongly pushed forward with the aim of changing its governance, a change already at the centre of reflection and discussion in all EU member states.
“We are optimistic about the outcome of these discussions and confident of our negotiating power, because we are facing a situation in which Italy’s interests ... coincide with the general interests of Europe, with the aim of preventing its possible decline. Europe is our home.”
“The government’s goal is to provide income support for families most affected by socio-economic hardship. The support ... will be conditional on vocational training and job reintegration. We propose, in a first phase, to strengthen the employment centres.”
“We will also take action to help pensioners who do not have enough income to live in a dignified manner.”
“We need to cut the pensions and annuities of parliamentarians, regional councillors and employees of constitutional bodies ... The so-called ‘golden pensions’ are another example of unjustified privilege that must be opposed. We will intervene on pensions that exceed 5,000 euros per month when the sum has not been covered by the contributions paid.”
“Our tax burden, combined with an excessive amount of bureaucracy, has a negative effect on the relationship between taxpayers and the state, and on the competitiveness of our country.”
“The goal is the ‘flat tax’, which is a reform with fixed tax brackets and a system of deductions that guarantees the progressiveness of the levy in full harmony with the principles of the constitution. This is the only way to bring about a drastic reduction in tax evasion, which will have benefits in terms of greater tax savings, greater consumer spending and investments, and increasing the tax base.”
“We will end the immigration business, which has grown out of all proportion under the cloak of fake solidarity.”
“We will forcefully seek the overcoming of the Dublin Regulations in order to obtain the effective respect of the principle of equal distribution of the responsibility to set up an automatic system of obligatory re-distribution of asylum seekers.”
“We are not and will never be racists. We want procedures that determine refugee status to be certain and speedy, in order to effectively guarantee their (refugee) rights.”
“First of all, we intend to reaffirm our convinced membership of NATO, with the United States of America as a privileged ally.”
“We will support opening up to Russia ... We will push for a review of the sanctions system, starting with those that risk humiliating Russian civil society.”
“Our goal is to rebuild a relationship of trust between citizens and the justice system.”
“In the government contract some specific objectives are spelt out: the simplification and reduction of trials, lowering the access costs to justice, strengthening the guarantees that protect the rights and interests of citizens.”
“We will toughen penalties for the crime of sexual violence coupled with fair compensation for the victims. ... Where necessary, we will increase the number of prisons ...”
“We will also reform the statute of limitations, which must be returned to its original function rather than be a mere expedient to escape due process.”
“We will strengthen strategies to combat corruption and criminal powers ... We will increase penalties for crimes against the public administration.”
“We will fight the mafia with every means, attacking their finances, their economies and hitting the networks of relationships that allow criminal organizations to become pervasive within the socio-economic fabric.”
“We will evaluate, during the course of our work, the contribution of parliamentary groups that want to share our journey and, if necessary, to sign up to the government contract, allowing us a more stable way to realise our programme.”
“This government intends to act with determination (against political privileges). The struggle against privilege and waste is not merely symbolic.”
“Conflict of interest is like woodworm that undermines our economic-social system at its roots. ... We will strengthen the current legislation so as to extend potential conflict of interest to include anything, even indirectly, that someone can derive from his position or his initiative.”
“The process of digitisation of the public administration must be carried out, which must translate into the complete simplification of procedures and burdens for citizens, businesses and public offices.” “The principle of absolute transparency of the public administration must be safeguarded ... burdens placed on public and private subjects must be simplified, rationalised and unified.” “We will have to work on simplifying the regulatory framework. Regulatory hypertrophy contributes to legal uncertainty, which ends up benefiting dishonest people and penalising citizens and businesses operating legally.” “We will be sure to reorganise entire sectors of the legal system, repealing unnecessary laws, and favouring the reorganisation of existing legislation, also through the adoption of codes by business sectors.”
“We will work to speed up the process, already in progress, of the ‘decarbonisation’ of our production system.”
“(The last government’s spending programme) calls for a reduction of health expenditure. It will be the task of this government to reverse this trend.”
“Internet access should be guaranteed for all citizens as a fundamental right and a precondition for the effective exercise of democratic rights.” (Reporting By Philip Pullella, Crispian Balmer, Steve Scherer and Gavin Jones)