September 8, 2018 / 12:16 PM / 16 days ago

Italy's Tria sees more growth, slight improvement in structural balance

VIENNA (Reuters) - Italy’s finance minister said he expected a small improvement in the country’s structural balance and faster economic growth, offering partial reassurance to markets and European Union partners concerned the coalition government will ramp up spending.

FILE PHOTO: Italian Economy Minister Giovanni Tria attends as Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte (unseen) speaks during his first session at the Lower House of the Parliament in Rome, Italy, June 6, 2018. REUTERS/Tony Gentile/File Photo

Giovanni Tria told reporters after a meeting of EU finance ministers in Vienna that “obviously there will be an improvement” in next year’s structural balance, which excludes one-off expenditures, although it was likely to be very small.

He also added that new data showed that Italy could have more robust economic growth than currently forecast this year — an improvement that could allow more spending without breaching EU rules.

EU rules require Italy to achieve a large improvement in its fiscal balance next year.

Tria did non provide a target figure for Italy’s headline and structural deficit next year, saying that the numbers will depend on coming economic estimates.

But he showed optimism on Italy’s growth outlook. “Incoming data are a bit more reassuring” than forecasts of a slowdown released in July, he said, without elaborating.

The Bank of Italy and the European Commission cut in July their growth forecasts for Italy this year to 1.3 percent from 1.5 percent estimated earlier.

European Commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis said on Friday after meeting Tria that Italy was moving in the right direction with plans to cut its debt and improve its structural balance.

Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Catherine Evans and Helen Popper

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