In his inaugural speech, Italy's Prime Minister Enrico Letta has vowed to act fast to reverse an austerity policy he said was killing Italy. He also promised results in 18 months or he will "take the consequences."
Prime Minister Enrico Letta pledged to push for a change to the European Union's austerity policy and foster growth and jobs in his inaugural speech on Monday.
Letta, who was sworn in with his cabinet on Sunday, promised to have results in 18 months or "take the consequences."
"The only possible outcome is success. In 18 months, I will check to see if the reform program is going as planned. If, however, everything gets bogged down, I will take the consequences," he said.
"Italy is dying from austerity alone. Growth policies cannot wait," Letta said adding that Italy's two-trillion-euro ($2.6 trillion) debt "weighs heavily" on ordinary Italians who are struggling with an 11.6 percent jobless rate.
Since an inconclusive election in February the recession-hit country has been under pressure to quickly lifting the economy out of a decade of stagnation.
The 46-year-old moderate, however, said he pledged to stick to Italy's budget commitments to its European Union partners.
On Tuesday, Letta is scheduled to visit Germany for talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Italian government confirmed it would be Letta's first trip abroad since formally taking office.
He is then scheduled to travel to Brussels to meet EU president Herman Van Rompuy.
Shooting at swearing in ceremony
On Saturday, Letta, 46 and the moderate deputy head of the center-left Democratic Party (PD), had ended two months of political stalemate - prompted by an inconclusive general election in February - by bringing together former rivals in a coalition government.
The new Italian government is composed of 21 ministers hailing from Letta's PD, Berlusconi's People of Freedom, and Mario Monti's centrist Civic Choice. The Cabinet also features several nonaligned members, seven women, the first Afro-Italian minister in the country's history and an average age of 53 - significantly younger than previous administrations.
The official swearing in ceremony Sunday was overshadowed by a shooting incident near the premier's office. An unemployed man opened fire injuring two police officers.
Deputy Rome prosecutor Pierfilippo Laviani said the assailant, who was then wrestled to the ground by other policemen, had intended to "strike politicians," but shot at police officers instead.
hc/kms (AFP, Reuters)