Italy parliament passes austerity package

ROME Fri Jul 15, 2011 12:25pm EDT

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ROME (Reuters) - Italy's lower house of parliament approved a 48 billion euro austerity package on Friday in a vote rushed through to try to calm a financial market storm which has sent Italian borrowing costs soaring in recent days.

The lower house voted 314 in favor and 280 against the motion, which hours earlier had passed in a confidence vote.

The mix of spending cuts and tax measures, aimed at protecting Italy from a full scale financial crisis and ensuring the government reaches its target of balancing the budget by 2014, was approved by the Senate on Thursday.

It has passed through parliament with unusual speed after the opposition said it would not hold up the package with delaying tactics because of the risk the tensions seen on financial markets in recent days could spiral out of control.

(Writing by James Mackenzie)

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