September 19, 2018 / 6:08 PM / in 8 months

Italy's Conte says not getting "hung up" over decimal places in budget

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte talks during a news conference with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (not pictured) at Chigi palace in Rome, Italy September 18, 2018. REUTERS/Max Rossi

SALZBURG, Austria (Reuters) - Italy’s government is not getting “hung up” over decimal places as it prepares the 2019 budget, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Wednesday, amid market fears the cabinet might sanction a surge in deficit spending.

Speaking ahead of a European Union summit, Conte said the budget needed to be “courageous” but also had to be credible in the eyes of financial markets, which sold off Italian bonds heavily over the summer on fears of a big jump in spending.

“We must not get hung up on decimal places. We must be credible with respect to ourselves as a government of change and with respect to the markets, because we are calling on markets to invest (in Italy),” Conte told reporters.

Reporting by Massimilaino Di Giorgio; Editing by Crispian Balmer

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