Super Mario gives himself both the top jobs in Italy’s government, writes Julian Harris

NEW Prime Minister Mario Monti (right) added to his portfolio yesterday, naming himself economy and finance minister in Italy’s proposed technocratic government.

The stand-in government, which does not include any elected politicians, will have the task of remedying the country’s fiscal crisis before fresh parliamentary elections scheduled for April 2013.

“It’s interesting that Monti has kept the economy ministry for himself,” commented Riccardo Barbieri, chief economist at Mizuho. “He obviously wants to be in control of what is clearly the most critical area.”

Combined with academics and bureaucrats, the cabinet includes faces from the world of business. Corrado Passera has stepped down as managing director and CEO of Intesa Sanpaolo and will become a senior member of the new government.

“I think that the choice of Passera as industry and infrastructure minister is important considering the crisis originated in the financial sector,” said Annalisa Piazza of Newedge Strategy yesterday.

Three women were included in the cabinet, including pensions expert Elsa Fornero, who will have the unenviable job of reforming the state-funded pensions system.

The selections were welcomed by British PM David Cameron, in a letter to Monti. “The Prime Minister welcomed his appointment and the experience and expertise that he will bring to the job,” Number 10 revealed. “He agreed that stability and the implementation of tough economic reforms were immediate priorities for Italy.”

Some analysts were equally upbeat about the government of relatively unknown specialists, which contrasts with the flamboyant and controversial former PM Silvio Berlusconi. “The cabinet is made up partly of people Monti knows well and trusts and partly of people who have probably been suggested to him by President Napolitano,” Mizuho’s Barbieri said.