Rome (Source: Peter Mayer dpa, Hamburg, Germany (MCT)) – Italy’s economic crisis and recent austerity measures introduced by the government, such as tax hikes, are driving more people to commit suicide, according to a group representing Italian tax-payers rights.
The organisation Federcontribuenti on Friday formally presented a request to prosecutors in Rome to launch an investigation into “at least” 18 suicide deaths which have taken place since the beginning of the year.
Most of the victims hail from Italy’s northern regions where many small and medium-sized firms which form the economic backbone of the country are located, Federcontribuenti said.
It cites figures such as those from the north-western port city of Genoa, where an increase of 5 per cent in the number of suicides has been registered during the first three months of 2012 compared to the same period last year.
The association wants a probe to establish whether those who are “supposed to prevent this social massacre are not playing their part,” its president Carmelo Finocchiaro was quoted as saying by the ANSA news agency.
He accused Prime Minister Mario Monti and his technocratic government “who in these months have only introduced new taxes and nothing else.”
The Federcontribuenti president spoke at a joint news conference with Senator Stefano Pedica of the Italy of Values, one of two parties in parliament which oppose Monti’s unelected, technocratic government.
Pedica criticized the state tax-collecting agency Equitalia which he accused of not making a distinction between those “who evade taxes and those who default” due to economic circumstances.
Federcontribuenti said it has submitted to Rome’s Tribunal a list containing details of the 18 victims. Among them is an asparagus farmer, Paolo Tonin, who was found hanged Thursday near the north-eastern town of Treviso.
Tonin was reportedly facing debt problems which he had recently discussed with a local mayor, the newspaper La Repubblica said.
Another person on the list is a 27-year-old owner of a tree-cutting firm near Arezzo who poisoned himself using the exhaust fumes of a car. The man had recently received a 50,000-euro (66,000-dollar) tax bill, La Repubblica reported.
Monti replaced Silvio Berlusconi as premier in November amid fears that Italy, the eurozone’s third largest economy, would default in its debt repayments.
Tax increases, spending cuts and a pledge to eliminate the budget deficit next year have since helped to calm the markets, but there is still concern over Italy’s economic growth prospects after the government revised a series of structural measures, including job market reforms, that critics say do not go far enough to encourage mobility and attract foreign investment. dpa pwm mga Author: Peter Mayer
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