News Column

IMF: To fight corruption, Italy should undo Berlusconi legal reforms

June 17, 2014

Rome (Alliance News) - Italy should undo the legal reforms that helped former premier Silvio Berlusconi avoid prosecution as part of efforts to stamp out corruption, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Tuesday.

Under Berlusconi, who was convicted last year of tax fraud, parliament decriminalized false accounting, which he had been accused of. It also shortened statute of limitation periods, leading to the annulment of a number of cases against the conservative leader.

In a statement, the IMF welcomed more recent steps taken by authorities in Rome but said Italy's "legal framework could be further improved, notably by criminalizing the false accounting offense and changing the limitation period provisions."

Corruption has been in the spotlight in recent months with high-profile arrests in relation to postwar aid to Iraq, the building of dams against high tides in Venice, preparations for Milan's Expo 2015 and reconstruction work in quake-hit L'Aquila.

In response, the government of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Friday strengthened the powers of an anti-corruption agency headed by Raffaele Cantone, a magistrate who cut his teeth fighting the Neapolitan branch of the Mafia, the Camorra.

The IMF, which delivered its views as part of a regular annual monitoring exercise, urged Renzi to deliver on the wide-ranging economic, labour, judicial and administrative reforms he promised as he took office four months ago.

In a press conference with visiting IMF experts, Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan said they did not give "full marks" to Italy but "good" ones nonetheless.

The Washington-based body said Rome needed to do "more" to trim debt but should also "strike a delicate balance between setting the debt ratio on a downward path while avoiding excessive tightening that derails the fragile recovery."

The IMF advised spending and tax cuts, help for banks saddled with bad loans, privatizations and more investment on education and employment to be financed by reductions in top-level pensions in the name of correcting an "elderly bias" in public policy.

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Source: Alliance News

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