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Italy sends new signal over pension reform

ITALY- In an unusual move, the welfare ministry has said that the government wants the controversial pension bill to be sent from the labour committee to the Senate for the second time in a few weeks.

A Senate spokesman said it was “something that is not often done” and that it was a signal to the rest of Europe that the approval of the pension reform was “imminent”.

In an official statement, the ministry said: “The bill will be presented to the Senate next April 19. The proposal of the majority the governing_coalition to suspend its discussion in the senate has been approved.”

The statement also said that the request to suspend the discussion until April 19 has been put forward by the whole coalition.

“What has happened is that the majority asked for a return to the senate before the committee had concluded its works,” the spokesman said.

He also said the first date the government had chosen for the bill’s return to the senate for discussion coincided with the meeting of European Union finance and economy ministers, known as Ecofin.

The spokesman said sending the bill right back where it came from was “a message to Europe that the approval of the reform was imminent”.

The spokesman added that once the Ecofin meeting was over, the government had asked for the bill to be sent back to the committee postponing the return to the senate to April.

In the meantime, representatives of the 19 privatised pension funds, including the funds for lawyers, accountants and business consultants and surveyors, met welfare minister Roberto Maroni last Thursday.

According to the ministry, the delegation, led by the president of the fund for business consultants and accountants, Adelio Bertolazzi, thanked Maroni for his “openness” to their requests.

Bertolazzi, who is also vice president of the funds’ association ADEPP, explained that the funds, privatised since 1994, proposed to provide their members with second-pillar schemes as well as statutory pensions.

The amendments, which would be part of the pension reform bill, would also allow the funds who do not yet include health insurance cover in their contacts to do so.

“The minister said he accepted in principle, but he put one condition: that the funds must keep an eye on sustainability and be able to pay their liabilities. Now it is it in the hands of parliament,” Bertolazzi said.

The ministry called the meeting “very useful and profitable”.

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