Italy has failed on economy: UniCredit

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Italy lacks political vision and has failed to take advantage of strong growth over the past decade to get its economy in order, the head of Italy's biggest bank said here on Tuesday.

Austerity measures recently announced by the government of Silvio Berlusconi "are not sufficient" because "the real challenge is to create wealth," UniCredit chief Federico Ghizzoni told a banking conference here.

"The government has missed the boat (on growth) over the past five to ten years," Ghizzoni said, calling for "more vision and political intervention", and urging the government to invest more in research and development.

At the same time, "much public spending in Italy can be cut," and many assets still owned by the government, such as the railways, could be privatised, the bank chief said.

In addition, the fight against tax evasion must be intensified, he added.

The government's austerity plan, aimed at achieving a balanced budget by 2013, is scheduled to be debated by the Senate later on Tuesday.

Tens of thousands of workers took to the streets across the country in protest against the cuts and the country's biggest union called a general strike.

© 2011 AFP

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