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Italy will not lift 2017 GDP growth forecast – junior minister

CERNOBBIO, Italy (Reuters) – The Italian government will confirm an economic growth forecast of 1 percent for 2017, in a multi-year fiscal plan due to be presented next week, junior Economy Minister Enrico Morando said on Saturday.

Italy’s gross domestic product rose 0.9 percent in 2016, compared with 0.8 percent growth in 2015 and business confidence has improved steadily in recent months, with surveys of purchasing managers pointing to accelerating activity.

This has raised expectations that the Treasury may lift Italy’s growth forecast for this year, which it said last year would be 1 percent, in its Economic and Financial Document.

The fiscal plan will also include a commitment by the government to restart its privatisation plan, after it postponed the sales of several state-owned assets last year.

Morando told reporters at the Ambrosetti workshop in Cernobbio that state fund Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) may play a role in the next phase of the privatisation programme and added oil major Eni (ENI.MI), utility Enel (ENEI.MI) and national post office Poste Italiane (PST.MI) would likely be involved in the plan.

Italian newspapers have reported that the government could sell its stakes in Eni, Enel, Poste Italiane and other state-controlled companies to CDP as a way to raise funds to cut its huge public debt.

(Reporting by Francesca Landini; editing by Alexander Smith)

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