October 22, 2018 / 11:28 AM / a month ago

Italy's Conte defends deficit hike, says economy needs a lift

ROME, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte defended on Monday Italy’s 2019 budget, which has fallen foul of the European Commission, saying the failure of previous efforts to stimulate the economy meant a new approach was needed.

In a wide-ranging news conference, Conte said he wanted constructive dialogue with the Commission over the contested fiscal package, and predicted that growth would “take off” once government reforms were implemented.

He pledged that next year’s deficit would not exceed 2.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and dismissed any suggestion that Italy might have to abandon the euro currency or leave the European Union. (Reporting by Gavin Jones and Giselda Vagnoni; Writing by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Giulia Segreti)

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