ROME, ITALY - NOVEMBER 29: The Vice President of the Council in addition to Minister of the Inner surface Matteo Salvini attends the television show 'L'aria che tira'.

Simona Granati – Corbis | Corbis News | Getty Images

ROME, ITALY – NOVEMBER 29: The Vice President of the Council in addition to Minister of the Inner surface Matteo Salvini attends the television show ‘L’aria che tira’.

Using Italy’s gold reserves to plug budget holes could be an interesting idea, Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said on Monday after a media report said the government was considering such a move.

Earlier, La Stampa newspaper said in which the government was considering using part of the country’s gold reserves, which are held by the Bank of Italy, to rein in its budget deficit This specific year in addition to avoid a planned VAT increase in 2020.

“the item’s not an issue in which I am following, nevertheless the item could be an interesting idea,” Salvini, who is actually also the League party’s leader, told reporters in Rome when asked about the possibility of tapping gold reserves.

Previous attempts by Italian governments to tax the gold reserves or to sell part of them to help balance the public accounts were stopped by European authorities because they could have undermined the Bank of Italy’s independence or broken public financing rules.

The talk of using the central bank-managed gold reserves comes after the leaders of the ruling coalition, formed by the far-right League in addition to the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, promised at the weekend to replace top officials at the Bank of Italy who they said must pay for failing to prevent bank failures.

Italian Agriculture Minister Gian Marco Centinaio, who is actually also a member of the League, said on Monday he had never heard anyone inside government speak about the idea of using gold reserves to plug budget shortfalls.

“I’ve never heard talk in cabinet meetings or any different political settings about getting our hands on the Bank of Italy’s gold,” Centinaio said in an interview with Radio Capital.

Italy is actually the entire world’s third-largest holder of gold reserves, behind the United States in addition to Germany, with 2,451.8 tonnes as of last year, according to the entire world Gold Council.