The Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi called for the confidence vote on the adjusted 45.5 billion euro austerity package as the government attempts to survive the market pressure and demands from the ECB and the EU.

The amended package includes an increase in the VAT to 21% from 20% and the introduction of a 3.0% levy on incomes over 300,000 euros per year. They also increase the retirement age for women in the private sector from 2014.

The Cabinet in Rome yesterday approved the measures and the Senators will meet this morning in Rome to cast the votes on the amended package, and in a statement from the Premier's office last night it said that the confidence vote was forced by the seriousness of the global financial crisis.