Conte sees league’s early budget bid as linked to flat tax

Italy’s Prime minister candidate Giuseppe Conte addresses journalists after a meeting with Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella on May 27, 2018 at the Quirinale presidential palace in Rome. (AFP/Getty pic)

MILAN: Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte sees a call by League party leader Matteo Salvini to start work early on the 2020 budget as a possible attempt to lock in a commitment to the controversial flat tax plan, daily La Stampa reported.

Conte is wary of the move and plans to meet with Salvini and fellow Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio early next week for clarification, the newspaper said.

The prime minister sees Salvini as either seeking a “black and white” commitment to his party’s tax program – which he’s said could cost €10 billion (US$11.4 billion) – or an attempt to keep open the possibility of precipitating a political crisis and moving toward early elections in the fall, Stampa reported, without citing anyone.

Italy and the European Union are locked in a tense standoff as Conte seeks to avoid disciplinary action over the country’s debt, while his deputies manoeuvre to assure funding for their flagship policies.

Those include the flat tax for Salvini’s League, and the citizens income welfare program for Di Maio’s Five Star Movement.

The flat-tax plan will “obviously” go ahead, Salvini said in an interview with Sky TG24 television Sunday. The measure will be worth “at least €15 million,” the minister said, adding that the funds “have already been found.