Italy announces $2.9B anti-poverty plan

May 12, 2012 at 1:31 PM
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ROME, May 12 (UPI) -- Italy's government says more than $2.9 billion for an anti-poverty plan would come from obsolete or underused programs that are already in the budget.

Under the plan, which the Cabinet discussed Friday, more than $904 million would go toward helping the elderly and improving conditions at southern Italy nurseries and adding space for 18,000 more babies, Italy's ANSA news agency reported.

About $101 billion would be invested in economically "vulnerable" southern regions of Sicily, Calabria, Puglia and Campania, and more than $956 million would go toward developing industry nationwide.

"The government decided [on the measures] not because they were requested by the parties, but because Italian society has asked for them for some time," Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said.

The government announced the plan the same day the EU commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, Olli Rehn, said Italy is on track to balance its budget in 2013 without further austerity measures. Rehn said Italy's economy should improve in the second half of 2012.

Monti said the anti-poverty plan is part of the government's strategy for economic growth.

"This is not in the least a change of gear, as attention to equity and growth are part and parcel of some of the hardest things we have proposed in Parliament," Monti said.

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