Source Pravda.Ru

Italy wants to back lira

Italy's labor minister called for a referendum on reintroducing the lira as the country's currency.

"Wouldn't it be better perhaps to return, temporarily, at least to a system of double circulation" &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2002/12/09/40587.html ' target=_blank>Roberto Maroni asked La Repubblica newspaper in comments published Friday. Under his plan, both the lira and the euro would remain in circulation. The comments follow discontent in Italy over high prices that are blamed on the euro. Public resentment over the euro and Europe have increased following the rejection this week in France and Netherlands of the European constitution.

Top Italian officials, including Prime Minister &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/20/91/365/10664_Berlusconi.html ' target=_blank>Silvio Berlusconi, are not believed to support Maroni's plan. Maroni is a member of the Northern League party, an anti-European Union member of Berlusconi's coalition government, informs World Peace Herald.

With elections due next spring and the nation in recession, Italy’s politicians are becoming increasingly sensitive to public anger over economic difficulties, and likely to be worried about any anti-European backlash in the wake of the rejection of the EU constitution by French and Dutch voters.

Signor Maroni is a leader of the Northern League, a party whose base is largely built on owners of small and medium-sized businesses in northern Italy. The eurosceptic party is one of Signor Berlusconi’s main coalition partners.

The currency had "proved inadequate in the face of the economic slowdown, the loss of competitiveness and the job crisis," Signor Maroni said. He argued for giving Rome greater power to defend national industry from foreign competition and to take control the exchange rate again.

Signor Maroni cited the example of Britain as a country whose economy "grows and develops, maintaining control over its currency".

"I have no nostalgia for the lira. But from the citizens a cry for help is reaching our ears," Signor Maroni said. The minister added that with the euro Italy could no longer adopt certain measures, such as devaluation of currency, to make exports more attractive.

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