Italy economy minister says 2014 growth could be above 0.8 pct-paper

ROME, April 20 Sun Apr 20, 2014 4:53pm EDT

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ROME, April 20 (Reuters) - Italian Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan said in interview published on Sunday he believed that growth in 2014 could be more than 0.8 percent but that he could not say by how much.

In the interview in the Corriere della Sera, Padoan was asked if growth could come in more than the 0.8 percent forecast earlier this month in the government's so-called Economic and Financial Document (DEF) containing new targets for coming years.

"I really think so, even though one cannot estimate by how much," he was quoted as saying.

Italy's economy, the euro zone's third-biggest, shrank in 2012 and 2013, and returned to growth on a quarterly basis for the first time in more than two years during the final three months of last year.

A consensus of 20 economists polled by Reuters earlier this month predicted gross domestic product (GDP) will rise only 0.6 percent in 2014.

Padoan also said that he believed the government's decision to lower taxes by about 80 euros a month for low earners starting next month should be made permanent in order to have effect.

"If it is not permanent, it will not be credible and the money won't be spent," he was quoted as saying. (Reporting By Philip Pullella; editing by Jon Boyle)

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