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Italy parliament approves budget despite warnings

© AFP/File | Despite warnings from the European Union, Italy's parliament passed a budget law that includes a 2.4 percent public deficit target for next year

ROME (AFP) - 

Italy's parliament on Thursday approved government budget targets despite deficit warnings by EU and IMF officials.

The Senate approved the budget law by 165 votes to 107 and the lower house followed suit, passing it by 331 to 191.

The populist government's 2018 budget law features projections for 2019 including a 2.4 percent public deficit target.

That is sharply higher than the previous government's target.

The governing populist Five Star Movement said in a statement the budget "lays the foundation for a change of course in Italian politics".

It said the plan will end the austerity policies of recent years and drive investment.

Five Star governs with the far-right League party.

IMF Chief Christine Lagarde said earlier Thursday that Italy must abide by EU norms on fiscal discipline.

EU Finance Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said the plan would increase Italy's debt -- already among the highest in the eurozone.

The Italian parliament's budget office had also earlier rejected the government's 2019 forecasts as too optimistic.

The budget plan is due to be submitted to Brussels on Monday.

Lagarde said she hoped that would be followed by "dialogue which will bring everybody back to the rules of the game".

© 2018 AFP