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Italy still eyes reform amid political crisis

ITALY – The Italian government appears to want to bring forward the implementation of pension reform despite the current political crisis.

Welfare minister Roberto Maroni has said that the implementation of one the key elements of the pension reform could start in July rather than in September as previously stated.

It is the first time that the reform - passed in July - has been aired in public since the cabinet reshuffle that followed recent regional elections.

Maroni, who has been reconfirmed at the ministry of labour and welfare, was quoted by the Italian media as saying that it is "technically possible" for the preliminary phase of development of the second pillar to kick in this July, as originally planned, in spite of the political crisis.

The reform gives workers six months to decide whether to invest their severance pay, known as Tfr, in pension funds. The default ‘silent assent’ option was planned to begin this July.

But last month the ministry said that it would be postponed to September due to a lack of clarity on the supervisory role of pension regulator Covip amid the pension reform and a new bill to protect savings.

Covip is not mentioned in Maroni’s latest announcement that social partners would be summoned next week to continue talks about the Tfr business, estimated to be worth €14bn. The announcement but has been widely reported by the media.

Adriano Musi, joint general secretary for economic policy at the Uil trade union, said: “I think it is going to be a complex business and not as short as the ministry seems to foresee.”

The unions have not been officially summoned, he said. “I think it is primarily a matter of respect for parliament. Inviting us before the vote would equal being sure about the vote of confidence.”

“The issue of Covip must be resolved in the context of the pension reform as well as the new bill for the protection of savings, otherwise there will be a law that contradicts another,” Musi said.

The welfare ministry was unavailable for comment.

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