Italy's deputy leader Di Maio says he won't change the country's economic path


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Luigi Di Maio, Leader of 5-Star Movement (M5S) leaves the parliament after a new day of meetings for the formation of the new government on April 26, 2018 in Rome, Italy.

Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister, Luigi Di Maio, has told CNBC that his country will not change course despite fears of ballooning debt and struggling growth.

Last week, Italy’s anti-austerity government cut its 2019 growth forecast to 0.2% from a previous forecast of 1%.

The country also raised its 2019 deficit to 2.4%, breaking a commitment given to the European Commission last year to stick to just over 2%. The government also predicted public debt would hit a fresh record high of 132.6% of gross domestic product (GDP).

After the announcement, the European Commissioner for Economic and Financial affairs, Pierre Moscovici, said “We could again have problems with Italy.”

Speaking to CNBC’s Dan Murphy in Dubai on Monday, Di Maio said he still had faith in his government’s plan to reject austerity measures preferred by lawmakers in Brussels.

“We are not going to change path.We are on this path for growth and we want to further improve Italian production compared to the the past,” he said.

The 32-year-old said Italy’s attempts to improve its economy had to be looked at in the context of the ongoing trade dispute between the United States and China as well as Britain’s drawn out exit from the European Union.

“When we forecasted 1% GDP growth, Germany forecasted to grow by 1.9%, now Germany is fighting to achieve 0.5% growth. So our targets are positive, compared to other European nations. We are not resigned to zero percent growth and we are passing a series of laws to boost growth in Italy,” he said.

The deputy prime minister added that while there had been some losses in value to Italian banks at the end of 2018, the volatility in markets had passed and he didn’t think there was a risk for Italian lenders at the moment.

“We are a country of savers, we have a lot of private savings and this is very important for our economy. So, in general, I don’t see any risk for the Italian banks, for the euro zone, and for Europe.”

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