Italy’s Cabinet has approved $64.12 billion in government cuts over the next two years in a new effort to calm investors and balance the budget by 2013 to meet demands from the European Central Bank.
Italy approved the measures at an emergency meeting late Friday despite fierce opposition from local government officials who argued that the new austerity measures were socially unjust, and who urged the central government to go back to the drawing board, the Associated Press reports.
Italian President Silvio Berlusconi has worked furiously to gain Cabinet approval for the new austerity measures, the second round in mere weeks.
But at a news conference Friday, local officials told reporters that proposed cuts to such government services as local transportation would hurt society’s most vulnerable people, the AP reports.
Just last month, Rome passed a $99 billion austerity package, but the government has said that the country’s financial situation has deteriorated since then and new measures are needed.
Italy faces massive pressured from the European Central Bank and eurozone political leaders, the AP says. The country aims to balance its budget by 2013 instead of 2014 as originally planned.
The new measures still need to be approved by the Italian parliament.
A stock rally preceded the emergency government meeting, with the benchmark FTSE Mib index in Milan ending the day up 4 percent, the BBC says.