ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti announced on Saturday he planned to resign as soon as parliament approved the 2013 budget, paving the way for elections expected to be held as early as February.
Following is a summary of the policy areas in which his government has been most active:
Changed basis of state pensions to contributions paid from end-of-career salary. Raised minimum retirement age for men to 66 from 65 and for women to 62 from 60, with staggered increases to 66 in 2018. Years needed to qualify for a pension changed to years of contributions, rather than years of age, hiked to 42 years from 40 for men, and to 41 from 40 for women.
Monti’s “Save Italy” austerity plan, also approved in December, contained deficit cuts of some 20 billion euros.
The reform introduced a new version of a property tax that had been abolished by Monti’s predecessor Berlusconi, hiked sales tax and petrol tax and cut funding to local government.
The policies helped to calm markets and so lower borrowing costs, but economists criticized a heavy reliance on tax hikes that killed off already weak demand and deepened Italy’s recession.
Monti’s “Grow-Italy” package, approved in March, was aimed at boosting the growth potential of what has been the EU’s most sluggish economy for more than a decade.
Among a raft of relatively minor measures affecting service providers it abolished minimum tariffs for professions and forced banks and insurers to offer more choice and information about their products to customers.
After being watered down in parliament the package was seen in Italy as no more than a very modest step in the right direction, though it was warmly praised by Italy’s EU partners.
Passed in June 2012. Probably Monti’s most contentious reform, it aimed to reduce the use of temporary contracts while easing strong job protection for regular, salaried employees.
It hiked taxes on temporary contracts and made it slightly easier for firms to fire workers, but increased the role of judges in settling disputes, which critics said would bog down an already complicated system.
Most experts said it did not do enough to simplify and deregulate labor rules, and lamented that it did not apply at all to the public sector.
Analysts say Italy desperately needs deep reforms in areas Monti hardly addressed, including the slow and inefficient legal system and a bloated and wasteful political system.
A much vaunted reform to drastically reduce the number of provincial governments has been bogged down in parliament and will almost certainly not be approved before Monti steps down.
Reporting by Gavin Jones; Editing by Will Waterman