Italy's Di Maio warns coalition program must be respected: paper

MILAN (Reuters) – Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Saturday the governing coalition program must be respected after a top official raised doubts about a key pledge to introduce a minimum income for the poor.

Di Maio, who is leader of the anti-establishment 5 Star Movement, said the citizen’s income measures would be up and running in the first three months of next year.

“If I see a problem it’s not the resources or the norms but when someone doesn’t believe in what we’re doing,” Di Maio said in an interview in the daily Corriere della Sera.

Italian cabinet undersecretary Giancarlo Giorgetti, a member of 5-Star’s right-wing coalition partner the League, said in comments in a book the minimum income pledge would remain a measure to its own end if jobs were not created.

When the ruling coalition came to power in June, 5 Star and the League included a citizen’s income pledge in their so-called “government contract”.

“There are people who think they know the truth but we have signed a governing contract which must be respected by both sides,” Di Maio said, in response to a question on disagreements over security legislation.

The head of the League Matteo Salvini, who is also deputy prime minister as well as interior minister, said later on Saturday there was no disagreement with the 5 Star Movement.

“I am very happy with the laws we’ve done and those that are in the pipeline,” he said in messaged comments.

Rome has said that its plans to fund welfare benefits, earlier retirement and investments through higher deficit spending will boost growth and cut debt.

But last week the European Commission rejected Italy’s draft budget for next year, saying it was in blatant breach of European Union fiscal rules and would push debt higher.

Di Maio told Corriere della Sera that a dialogue with Brussels about the budget was clearly important but added that the government “will not cede an inch”.

An opinion poll published by the same paper on Saturday said that, as in a poll published last month, 57 percent of Italians had a favorable opinion of the ruling coalition.

It showed 5 Star had the backing of 28.7 percent of voters, up from 28.5 percent in a previous poll on Oct. 4, while the League’s support had risen to 34.7 percent from 33.8 percent.

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