Italy passes liberalization decree
Updated: 2012-01-21 10:33
ROME - Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti's government adopted Friday a package of reforms aimed at boosting stagnant economy in debt-crisis hit Italy.
The set of reforms will enhance competition through gradually liberalizing a number of sectors, Monti told a press conference after the approval of the plan following an eight-hour meeting with its cabinet of technocrats.
"We have worked on growth-enhancing measures after for decades the Italian economy has been curbed by the three ties of lack of competition in markets, incompleteness of infrastructures and complex bureaucracy," Monti said.
The package, which followed a tough austerity plan passed last month, will help fight privileges and help young generations, the Italian premier pointed out.
The first liberalization targets will be local service professions and businesses, with pharmacies, taxis, lawyers, public transport and petrol stations among the first in the change line.
Under the growth-enhancing decree, more taxi licenses will be handed out according to local needs, and some new 5,000 pharmacies will be allowed to open.
Minimum fees for professional offices will be abolished, while procedures to start new companies will be simplified.
However, taxi drivers have strongly protested throughout Italy against the package, claiming liberalizations will further hit lower classes, while lawyers have announced strikes in the next weeks.
"We have always to wait for long time in a line at stands, while rides have decreased following a previous liberalization in 2006," a taxi driver told Xinhua while striking in Rome.
He said working in the Italian capital is not easy, as in a period of serious economic crisis people start saving money on unnecessary things such as taxis.
In southern Sicily island, the so-called "Pitchforks movement" composed by farmers and haulers took the streets to express angry disapproval towards the government's move.
Among the main gripes of protesters was the price of fuel, which they believe has reached unsustainable levels.
With its economy expected to shrink by 2.2 percent this year and 0.6 percent in 2013, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Italy is under international pressure to reassure markets.
Monti said his cabinet will meet social partners on Monday to discuss the hot topic of labour reforms.