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Salvini: ‘Return control of gold reserves to Italian people’

Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has unleashed a torrent of indignation after he called for Italy's gold reserves to be taken away from the country's central bank.

Published: February 14, 2019, 5:57 am

    Rome

    Salvini has demanded that control of Italy’s gold reserves be taken away from the country’s central bank, because “the gold is the property of the Italian people, not of anyone else”.

    Earlier, Salvini blamed the management of the Bank of Italy, saying that they should be “completely cleared out” because they failed to avert the country’s banking crisis.

    A research professor, told Sputnik News that the question remains of “who is formally regarded as the owner of Italy’s gold reserves: the Bank of Italy or the Italian State”.

    “Like other provocative rhetoric of Salvini, his statement is meant as anti-elite populism. It serves two proposes: towards the inside, ie as tool in the domestic political discussion, and towards the outside, ie as a critique of the European Union. Both are closely intertwined,” Roland Benedikter explained.

    He said that Salvini’s plea was not about financing Italy’s debt, but “rather about replacing Italy’s existing elites which is part of the current government’s aspirations”. It would boost the confidence of investors, he said.

    “As we hear from Salvini’s economy and financial advisers, his entourage seems to be well aware of this and does not plan to sell Italy’s gold. Besides the fact that the market is currently swamped by other actors such as — but not only — Venezuela. And that we are living through a moment where everybody who is not in direst straits is buying gold, not selling it,” he added.

    The Bank of Italy is part of the European System of Central Banks, and the world’s fourth-largest holder of gold reserves worth $103 billion, according to Bloomberg.

    Opposition politicians are furious, arguing that it may allow the government to raid the gold reserves to fund spending promises, citing “inadequate supervision” by government as a reason for rejecting the idea.

    The gold ownership bill was presented by euroskeptic lawmaker Claudio Borghi of the League. Borghi rejected the criticism. “My bill only aims at making clear that the gold belongs to the state, not to the government,” he said in a telephone interview on Monday. “If there are doubts on our intentions, we can also pass another law saying none of the gold reserves can be sold unless there is a majority of two thirds or more of both houses of Parliament.”

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