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Berlusconi says austerity plan adopted by Wednesday

MILAN, Sept 12 – Italy’s austerity programme, aimed at balancing the country’s budget by 2013 and reassuring skittish markets, will be adopted by Wednesday, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Monday.

“I think that the plan will be adopted by Wednesday and is the right plan,” the premier said, adding that there was “no margin for manoeuvre” for parliament to modify the programme at this late stage.

Berlusconi, speaking in a televisions interview, boasted on Sunday that the programme had “saved Italy.”

Late Wednesday the Italian Senate approved a reinforced austerity package including savings of 54.2 billion euros by 2013 in a move designed to reassure markets about Italy’s finances amid the eurozone debt crisis.

The government had turned the Senate vote into a confidence vote after Berlusconi’s popularity plummeted and he faced repeated calls to resign. It is likely to make it a confidence vote in the Chamber of Deputies as well.

The austerity package approved by the Senate, in addition to a 48-billion-euro plan approved in July, should help Italy bring its budget back into balance in 2013 instead of 2014.

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