Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte speaks during his first session at the Lower House of the Parliament in Rome, Italy, June 6, 2018. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Prime minister Giuseppe Conte speaks during his first session in the Lower House of the Italian parliament in Rome. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Italy moves into new territory after populist government takes power



Italy’s new government officially took the reins of the eurozone’s third largest economy on Wednesday after a decisive victory in the country’s chamber of deputies gave parliamentary approval to a populist coalition that has alarmed EU officials.

The alliance between the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the far-right League gained 350 votes in favour, 236 against and 35 abstentions, following senate approval for Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte's government on Tuesday.

Victory in the two houses, considered a given since the government was sworn in by the president on Friday, gives 53-year-old Mr Conte the mandate to carry out a programme for a "government of change".

Mr Conte's first task is to travel to the G7 summit in Canada, where he will make his debut in international politics barely a fortnight after arriving on the domestic scene.

"In the G7, the first thing for Italy will be to make itself known. The second to make sure that it is respected," Mr Conte said on Wednesday.

A lawyer with little political experience, Mr Conte was nominated by the League's Matteo Salvini and Five Star head Luigi Di Maio – both of whom are now his deputy prime ministers.

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His government’s programme – which combines radical tax cuts with anti-austerity measures like a basic monthly income for the poorest citizens – has left many Italian and international observers perplexed given the country’s huge public debt.

Italy has a €2.3 trillion (Dh10tr) burden which is 132 per cent of its gross domestic product, the highest ratio in the eurozone after Greece.

“We will get through the summer without difficulties, but there will be problems in the autumn if the new government implements just 50 per cent of what it has planned,” head of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) Klaus Regling said on Wednesday.

Mr Conte did not give details in his policy speeches to the senate and chamber on how pledges that could cost billions of euros will be financed.

Meanwhile, he also reiterated his government’s desire to introduce income tax bands of 15 and 20 per cent but gave no date as to when they would be implemented.

The programme was criticised in the chamber's pre-vote debate by the League's right-wing campaign allies Forza Italia and Brothers of Italy, and in particular by the centre-left Democratic Party (PD).

All three parties wondered where the funding coverage was for the government’s ambitious ideas, scoffing at its plans to reduce the debt with economic growth, while the PD’s chief whip, Graziano Delrio, also criticised Five Star for the programme’s hard line on immigration.

In the senate on Tuesday, Mr Conte called for "obligatory" redistribution of asylum seekers around the EU, and the coalition's promises to curb migrant arrivals and speed up expulsions of illegal immigrants mirror the promises of Mr Salvini's nationalist League.

On Wednesday, Interior Minister Salvini went a step further saying that he wanted to open more detention centres for the repatriation of migrants so they “aren’t strolling about our cities”.

Mr Conte’s promise to promote a review of sanctions against Russia also echo Mr Salvini’s insistence on a softening of relations with the country and its president, Vladimir Putin.

Mr Salvini has wasted no time creating controversy since being sworn in on Friday, saying at the weekend that Italy “cannot be Europe’s refugee camp” on a visit to Sicily, one of the country’s main refugee landing points.

He also caused a diplomatic incident with Tunisia after accusing the North African country of exporting “convicts”, leading to Tunisia expressing “deep surprise” in light of the two countries’ “cooperation in the fight against illegal immigration”.

Mr Salvini capped off an eventful few days by getting into a spat with Italian international footballer Mario Balotelli.

In an interview, Balotelli – whose parents are Ghanaian immigrants – lamented that he was not granted Italian citizenship until the age of 18 despite being born and raised in Italy.

“I’m not a politician, but I think the law should change,” he said on Tuesday.

Taking to Twitter, the new interior minister wrote: “Dear Mario, ‘Ius Soli’ (birthright citizenship) is not my priority, nor the priority of the Italians. Regards, and have fun chasing the ball.

The specs

Engine: Single front-axle electric motor
Power: 218hp
Torque: 330Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 402km (claimed)
Price: From Dh215,000 (estimate)
On sale: September

UAE players with central contracts

Rohan Mustafa, Ashfaq Ahmed, Chirag Suri, Rameez Shahzad, Shaiman Anwar, Adnan Mufti, Mohammed Usman, Ghulam Shabbir, Ahmed Raza, Qadeer Ahmed, Amir Hayat, Mohammed Naveed and Imran Haider.

Story behind the UAE flag

The UAE flag was first unveiled on December 2, 1971, the day the UAE was formed. 

It was designed by Abdullah Mohammed Al Maainah, 19, an Emirati from Abu Dhabi. 

Mr Al Maainah said in an interview with The National in 2011 he chose the colours for local reasons. 

The black represents the oil riches that transformed the UAE, green stands for fertility and the red and white colours were drawn from those found in existing emirate flags.

Company profile

Date started: 2015

Founder: John Tsioris and Ioanna Angelidaki

Based: Dubai

Sector: Online grocery delivery

Staff: 200

Funding: Undisclosed, but investors include the Jabbar Internet Group and Venture Friends

Martin Sabbagh profile

Job: CEO JCDecaux Middle East

In the role: Since January 2015

Lives: In the UAE

Background: M&A, investment banking

Studied: Corporate finance

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

RESULTS

Men
1 Marius Kipserem (KEN) 2:04:04
2 Abraham Kiptum (KEN) 2:04:16
3 Dejene Debela Gonfra (ETH) 2:07:06
4 Thomas Rono (KEN) 2:07:12
5 Stanley Biwott (KEN) 2:09:18

Women
1 Ababel Yeshaneh (ETH) 2:20:16
2 Eunice Chumba (BRN) 2:20:54
3 Gelete Burka (ETH) 2:24:07
4 Chaltu Tafa (ETH) 2:25:09
5 Caroline Kilel (KEN) 2:29:14

What is a Ponzi scheme?

A fraudulent investment operation where the scammer provides fake reports and generates returns for old investors through money paid by new investors, rather than through ligitimate business activities.

In-demand jobs and monthly salaries
  • Technology expert in robotics and automation: Dh20,000 to Dh40,000 
  • Energy engineer: Dh25,000 to Dh30,000 
  • Production engineer: Dh30,000 to Dh40,000 
  • Data-driven supply chain management professional: Dh30,000 to Dh50,000 
  • HR leader: Dh40,000 to Dh60,000 
  • Engineering leader: Dh30,000 to Dh55,000 
  • Project manager: Dh55,000 to Dh65,000 
  • Senior reservoir engineer: Dh40,000 to Dh55,000 
  • Senior drilling engineer: Dh38,000 to Dh46,000 
  • Senior process engineer: Dh28,000 to Dh38,000 
  • Senior maintenance engineer: Dh22,000 to Dh34,000 
  • Field engineer: Dh6,500 to Dh7,500
  • Field supervisor: Dh9,000 to Dh12,000
  • Field operator: Dh5,000 to Dh7,000
Living in...

This article is part of a guide on where to live in the UAE. Our reporters will profile some of the country’s most desirable districts, provide an estimate of rental prices and introduce you to some of the residents who call each area home.

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Lamsa

Founder: Badr Ward

Launched: 2014

Employees: 60

Based: Abu Dhabi

Sector: EdTech

Funding to date: $15 million

The bio

Job: Coder, website designer and chief executive, Trinet solutions

School: Year 8 pupil at Elite English School in Abu Hail, Deira

Role Models: Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk

Dream City: San Francisco

Hometown: Dubai

City of birth: Thiruvilla, Kerala

Company profile

Name: Tabby
Founded: August 2019; platform went live in February 2020
Founder/CEO: Hosam Arab, co-founder: Daniil Barkalov
Based: Dubai, UAE
Sector: Payments
Size: 40-50 employees
Stage: Series A
Investors: Arbor Ventures, Mubadala Capital, Wamda Capital, STV, Raed Ventures, Global Founders Capital, JIMCO, Global Ventures, Venture Souq, Outliers VC, MSA Capital, HOF and AB Accelerator.

The biog

Favourite car: Ferrari

Likes the colour: Black

Best movie: Avatar

Academic qualifications: Bachelor’s degree in media production from the Higher Colleges of Technology and diploma in production from the New York Film Academy

The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl, 48V hybrid

Transmission: eight-speed automatic

Power: 325bhp

Torque: 450Nm

Price: Dh359,000

On sale: now

A Cat, A Man, and Two Women
Junichiro
Tamizaki
Translated by Paul McCarthy
Daunt Books 

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylturbo

Transmission: seven-speed DSG automatic

Power: 242bhp

Torque: 370Nm

Price: Dh136,814

Fight card

Preliminaries:

Nouredine Samir (UAE) v Sheroz Kholmirzav (UZB); Lucas Porst (SWE) v Ellis Barboza (GBR); Mouhmad Amine Alharar (MAR) v Mohammed Mardi (UAE); Ibrahim Bilal (UAE) v Spyro Besiri (GRE); Aslamjan Ortikov (UZB) v Joshua Ridgwell (GBR)

Main card:

Carlos Prates (BRA) v Dmitry Valent (BLR); Bobirjon Tagiev (UZB) v Valentin Thibaut (FRA); Arthur Meyer (FRA) v Hicham Moujtahid (BEL); Ines Es Salehy (BEL) v Myriame Djedidi (FRA); Craig Coakley (IRE) v Deniz Demirkapu (TUR); Artem Avanesov (ARM) v Badreddine Attif (MAR); Abdulvosid Buranov (RUS) v Akram Hamidi (FRA)

Title card:

Intercontinental Lightweight: Ilyass Habibali (UAE) v Angel Marquez (ESP)

Intercontinental Middleweight: Amine El Moatassime (UAE) v Francesco Iadanza (ITA)

Asian Featherweight: Zakaria El Jamari (UAE) v Phillip Delarmino (PHI)

BACK TO ALEXANDRIA

Director: Tamer Ruggli

Starring: Nadine Labaki, Fanny Ardant

Rating: 3.5/5

The Intruder

Director: Deon Taylor

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Michael Ealy, Meagan Good

One star

Credit Score explained

What is a credit score?

In the UAE your credit score is a number generated by the Al Etihad Credit Bureau (AECB), which represents your credit worthiness – in other words, your risk of defaulting on any debt repayments. In this country, the number is between 300 and 900. A low score indicates a higher risk of default, while a high score indicates you are a lower risk.

Why is it important?

Financial institutions will use it to decide whether or not you are a credit risk. Those with better scores may also receive preferential interest rates or terms on products such as loans, credit cards and mortgages.

How is it calculated?

The AECB collects information on your payment behaviour from banks as well as utilitiy and telecoms providers.

How can I improve my score?

By paying your bills on time and not missing any repayments, particularly your loan, credit card and mortgage payments. It is also wise to limit the number of credit card and loan applications you make and to reduce your outstanding balances.

How do I know if my score is low or high?

By checking it. Visit one of AECB’s Customer Happiness Centres with an original and valid Emirates ID, passport copy and valid email address. Liv. customers can also access the score directly from the banking app.

How much does it cost?

A credit report costs Dh100 while a report with the score included costs Dh150. Those only wanting the credit score pay Dh60. VAT is payable on top.

The specs

Engine: 6.2-litre V8

Transmission: ten-speed

Power: 420bhp

Torque: 624Nm

Price: Dh325,125

On sale: Now


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