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Italian gov’t approves 36-billion-euro budget

ROME, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) — The Italian government of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Wednesday passed a 36-billion-euro budget for 2015 including adjustments aimed at boosting the country’s stagnant economy.

The budget, which will be sent to the European Commission (EC) for review, contains 18 billion euros in tax cuts and 15 billion euros in spending cuts.

"The difference between the 2014 budget and 2015 is that there are 18 billion euros in lower taxes," Renzi said earlier in the day presenting the bill.

Speaking in a press conference after the government’s approval on Wednesday evening, Renzi defined the budget as "anti-cyclical" and "respectful" of the 3 percent ceiling of deficit-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio allowed by European Union rules.

New measures against widespread tax evasion, which Renzi said are expected to return 3.8 billion euros to the Italian state, were also included in the budget.

The government planned to give workers an advance on their severance pay to stimulate consumption and to grant a break on some tax contributions to employers who hire new workers on permanent contracts.

Earlier this week, the prime minister promised that his government will reach the natural end of the current legislature in 2018 with a "transformed Italy."

The country is still struggling to overcome persisting stagnancy. According to data released by national statistical institute Istat on Wednesday, the Italian economy was flat in the first quarter of the year.

Istat said Italy’s GDP was down 0.2 percent in the second quarter of this year compared with the previous three months, and fell by 0.3 percent compared with the same period in 2013. The Italian economy has shown no growth since the second quarter of 2011, it said.

The statistics institute has recently revised its measurements to also include the impact of illegal activities such as drugs and prostitution, in line with new European standards. (1 euro = 1.27 U.S. dollars)

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