By Andrew Frye
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s allies in parliament are intensifying demands for drastic cuts to Italy’s order for Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 fighter jets.
Leaders of the premier’s party passed a report in the lower house’s Defense Commission yesterday that recommends reducing the budget for the planned 90-jet purchase by half as part of a broader review of defense spending. The author of the report, lawmaker Gian Piero Scanu of Renzi’s Democratic Party, said he thinks the government is ready to listen.
“I’m sure we will find common ground,” Scanu said in an interview today. The order, which Scanu said was expected to be worth 12 billion euros ($17 billion) “is only a statement of intent and not a contractual commitment,” he said.
The military budget is up for review as policy makers seek resources to cover tax cuts needed to support economic recovery. Renzi, 39, has said he favors a reduction in the F-35 order and has asked Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti to find 3 billion euros of military savings in three years.
Scanu said he may pursue the matter beyond the commission and seek a vote on the floor of the lower house to prompt action. The government will work for a compromise, la Repubblica reported today, citing an interview with Pinotti.
“We support the government, and Renzi is the government,” Scanu said. “However, in a democratic society the legislature has a role to fill” in evaluating expenses and strategy, he said.