Italy Q3 budget deficit improves

MILAN (AFP) – Italy’s budget deficit improved in the third quarter of 2018 to 1.7 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), shedding 0.1 percentage point compared with a year earlier, official figures showed yesterday.

The improvement came despite market apprehension over the election promises of the populist government which came to power in June and a subsequent standoff with Brussels over its big-spending budget plans.

Statistics agency ISTAT said government revenues rose 1.7 per cent while expenses were up 1.5 per cent.

Italy’s deficit for the first nine months of 2018 was 1.9 per cent, a marked improvement on the 2.6 per cent for the same period in 2017, statistics agency ISTAT said.

The amount Italy has had to pay in interest on its massive public debt has risen sharply, gaining 1.7 billion euros since the coalition of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the far-right League took over from the previous centre-left government.

Rome’s cost of borrowing is expected to have continued to rise in the fourth quarter of 2018 because of the standoff with the European Commission over the 2019 budget that spooked markets.