Italian Prime Minister Meets With Pope

Posted November 18th, 2011 at 6:15 am (UTC-5)
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Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti had his first meeting with Pope Benedict XVI Friday ahead of his government's second confidence vote in parliament.

The two met briefly at Rome's airport before the Pope left for three-day trip to West Africa, but details of the talk were not disclosed.

Mr. Monti's plan to resolve Italy's debt crisis is expected to win approval in the lower house of parliament Friday.

On Thursday, the prime minister easily won Senate approval to begin reforms aimed at revitalizing the country's debt ridden economy.

He has vowed to impose stringent reforms buoyed by schemes to generate economic growth.

Mr. Monti said his government's goals include improving public services and introducing measures that favor employment for women and young people.

He said he may bring back an unpopular property tax that his predecessor Silvio Berlusconi eliminated.

The new prime minister also said he will consider overhauling the entire tax system. Measures might include cutting taxes on employers and providing tax breaks for hiring women. He said shifting the tax burden from employers to consumers will encourage growth.

Mr. Monti, an economics professor and former European Union commissioner, was sworn in Wednesday. He said Italians will have to make sacrifices to get the economy moving forward again.

Meanwhile, thousands of students across Italy marched against the new government Thursday. Demonstrators protesting budget cuts and a lack of jobs clashed with police in Rome, Milan, and other cities.