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Italy mulls reform agenda wanted by president

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

As Italian President Giorgio Napolitano moves to form a new government on Tuesday following his re-election, a report by a group of experts he convened is set to serve as the new reform agenda.

Napolitano said the report presented earlier this month should guide the new government, with its range of recommendations on political and economic reforms to modernise a recession-stricken country.

Here are the main points in the report:

-- Economic --

1. Benefits: An emergency boost for the state unemployment benefits fund of 1.0 billion euros ($1.3 billion) to ensure it does not run out within months, as record numbers of laid-off workers are currently seeking payments.

2. Helping business: Boosting state support for small and medium-sized companies -- the backbone of the Italian economy -- as well as increasing the role of public-private partnerships, which are under-developed in Italy.

3. Lower taxes: The group recognised that the fiscal burden for individuals and companies had become too elevated -- it is currently among the highest in Europe -- especially as a result of the recent succession of austerity budgets.

4. Allowance: A more in-depth study on the proposal -- pushed by the anti-establishment Five Star Movement -- of having new job seekers receive allowances in Italy, which currently gives benefits only to people who have held jobs.

-- Political --

1. Election Law: An overhaul of election rules that have been widely blamed for leading to the current stalemate, particularly by increasing proportional representation instead of the current system based entirely on party lists.

2. Cutting MPs: Leading parties have talked for years about the possibility of cutting bureaucratic costs by halving the number of lawmakers in parliament, which currently has a total of 945 deputies and senators.

3. Party Subsidies: A sharp reduction in public subsidies given to political parties every year -- blamed for a lot of the sleaze in public life -- while keeping some payments to avoid private donors becoming too influential.

4. Conflict of Interests: The idea of a law that would prevent a politician from owning television networks has been discussed ever since Silvio Berlusconi entered politics in the 1990s -- it has never been fully realised.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130423/italy-mulls-reform-agenda-wanted-president