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Italian PM Conte convenes ministers to try to break budget impasse

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte met his top ministers on Friday to try to overcome an impasse over the government's first budget between the ruling parties and the economy minister who is resisting their plans to boost spending.
The coalition has to set growth, deficit and debt targets for next year's budget by September 27. The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement has asked for a basic income for the poor, and its coalition partner, the far-right League party, wants tax cuts for individuals and companies. Both agree the retirement age should be lowered.
However, Economy Minister Giovanni Tria, an academic who is not affiliated to either party, wants to set the 2019 budget deficit at 1.6% of GDP, according to a government source, while sources from the 5-Star and the League have told Reuters they want it as high as 2.5%.
"The meeting was useful and positive," the League's leader Matteo Salvini said after leaving Conte's office. Riccardo Fraccaro, 5-Star's minister for relations with parliament, said the coalition was on "the right path" in drawing up the financial bill.
Markets have been unnerved by the debate, with Italian bond yields moving in accordance with the tone of...

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