The Italian government plans to use the country’s gold reserves, stored at the Bank of Italy, in order to dodge the increase of value-added tax (VAT) in 2020, the La Stampa newspaper reported on Monday.

The recent statements of Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Salvini, who have called for a complete change of leadership of the Italian central bank, are aimed at gaining real control over the country’s gold reserves, according to the La Stampa. 

The Bank of Italy has a broad autonomy, with its decision-making process independent from the country’s government. However, at the same time, the members of Cabinet blame the bank’s incumbent leadership for failing to properly oversee the Italian banking system, leading to a collapse of a number of credit institutions.

This comes after on December 30, the Italian parliament gave its final approval to the draft legislation on the country’s state budget for the year of 2019, which had triggered a sharp conflict between Rome and Brussels pushing the European Union to consider the possibility of launching a debt-based excessive deficit procedure (EDP) with respect to Italy.

Italy’s final state budget abandoned previous plans to increase VAT, introduced unconditional basic income and included a provision including for amending the country’s current laws in order to ensure earlier retirement.

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