August 18, 2018 / 10:31 AM / a year ago

Italy should double 2019 growth target to 2 pct - Savona

MILAN, Aug 18 (Reuters) - The Italian government should be able to double its economic growth target for next year to 2 percent, thanks to an expected massive injection of private investment, a senior minister said.

European Affairs Minister Paolo Savona wrote in a newspaper editorial published on Saturday that investment planned by major Italian firms could amount to as much as 34 billion euros ($39 billion), boosting the economy and state revenues in turn.

“To bring the real rate of growth for 2019 to 2 percent would be a realistic economic policy objective,” he wrote in financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore.

Last month, Savona proposed Italy should boost investments by about 50 billion euros and called on the EU to back the plan instead of insisting on deficit reduction.

He said at the time that the boost to growth would generate extra revenues that would allow the government to fund all its main spending plans, and would help ease the public debt burden.

The new anti-establishment government wants to cut taxes, ease pension rules and introduce a basic income for the poor, measures estimated to cost tens of billion of euros. Italy has the highest debt burden of any big euro zone economy.

Earlier this month, Economy Minister Giovanni Tria said he expected a downward revision of economic output to 1 or 1.1 percent next year from a previous estimate of 1.4 percent.

Savona’s latest editorial fleshes out his original proposal, suggesting the private sector can provide the majority of the desired 50 billion euros investment stimulus.

He cited the domestic spending plans of energy group Eni , utility Enel, power transmission firm Terna and defence group Leonardo.

This year, Eni and Terna alone announced plans to invest 22 billion and 12 billion euros in Italy, respectively. ($1 = 0.8744 euros) (Reporting by Mark Bendeich; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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