MILAN, Italy, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) - Italy's Prime Minister Enrico Letta said on Friday that Italy would respect its commitment to keep its deficit-GDP ratio within 3 percent following the European Central Bank's warning that the country risked missing its deficit target for this year.
"There are all conditions to not exceed 3 percent, which is our commitment," Letta said at a conference held in the northern city of Turin. The European Union does not allow member countries to have a deficit-GDP ratio of more than 3 percent.
Letta defined Italy's public debt, which is around 130 percent of gross domestic product, as the "number one problem of the country, a nightmare that is eating our future as we try to solve today's problems with our children's money."
He added that Italy needs credibility on the international financial markets to be able to pay down its huge debt, the largest in the eurozone after the Greek one.
"In order to pay our debts, we have to be credible because no one will buy our debt if we are not," he stressed.
According to figures of the Italian central bank released on Friday, the country's public debt rose 84.2 billion euros (111.8 billion U.S. dollars) in the first seven months of 2013, due to a rise in the public-sector borrowing requirement and an increase in the government's liquidity resources.
The Italian government said in a report last week that it had revised its deficit-to-GDP ratio forecast for this year up from 2.9 percent to 3 percent following its decision to abolish a tax on first homes called IMU to meet demands from former premier Silvio Berlusconi's center-right party.
The European Central Bank warned on Thursday that some recent moves, including the rolling-back of the IMU tax, could affect Italy's capacity to bring down the deficit ratio. The European Commission closed an excessive-deficit procedure against the Mediterranean country in May after its deficit was at 3 percent last year and the government said it would be 2.9 percent in 2013.
"We are making a huge effort to keep this government on its feet," Letta also said on Friday. His unprecedented left-right government is threatened by increasing strains between his center-left Democratic Party and Berlusconi's People of Freedom over an upcoming vote on stripping the media tycoon of his Senate seat because of a guilty tax-fraud conviction.