Italy delivers tough austerity measures

James Mackenzie and Gavin Jones

* Cabinet adopts 45.5 bln euros in budget measures by 2013
* Special levy on high earners, financial tax rise
* Accelerated deficit cuts imposed by ECB
* Berlusconi says tax increases make his heart bleed

ROME, Aug 12 (Reuters) – Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi announced a painful mix of tax increases and spending cuts on Friday to meet European Central Bank demands for action on shoring up Italy’s strained public finances.

At an emergency evening cabinet meeting, the government adopted an austerity package worth 20 billion euros in 2012 and a further 25.5 billion euros the following year to bring the budget into balance in 2013.

The measures ranged from a special levy on incomes above 90,000 euros to higher taxes on income from financial investments and cuts in the cost of government, notably through a cull in the number of local politicians.

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