Italy Has No Plans to Access ECB Bond-Buying Plan: Monti
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said he is not expecting Italy to access the European Central Bank's new bond-buying program anytime soon in an exclusive interview with me for CNBC's "Closing Bell."
The Italian leader, who was greeted warmly by supporters at the Ambrosetti forum in Lake Como, Italy, said he plans to keep Italy on track to return to economic growth sometime in 2013. Monti, whose term expires in April 2013, said he has no plans to stay on beyond that.
The prime minister has been able to stabilize the Italian economy and markets with his programs to raise taxes and cut spending as he seeks to balance the budget and rein in debt that is some 120 percent of the country's gross domestic product.
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Monti also said he is trying hard to avoid having to institute an increase in the so-called VAT tax but is continuing to raise revenue elsewhere and make labor markets more flexible. He said he's not considering a so-called sin tax on cigarettes and alcohol.
Unions are still fighting back on cutbacks and are asking for a cut in taxes on the extra money they receive in December. Monti said there just isn't any money for such a move.
He's also trying to better police tax evaders, who some say could be as much as 50 percent of the Italian population.
He's been able to stabilize markets over the short term but longer term, structural change will be needed to attack unemployment, which is now more than 10 percent — and much more for young people — as well as spiraling debt.
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Monti's fans here in Italy are hoping he is successful in generating growth so that they won't have to swallow more austerity.
—By CNBC's Maria Bartiromo; Follow Her on Twitter @MariaBartiromo
Correction: Italy's debt is 120 percent of the country's GDP, not 120 times as a version of this article previously stated.