ROME - New Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi unveiled his policy programme in his maiden speech to the upper house Senate on Wednesday ahead of a mandatory confirmation vote he is expected to win comfortably. Following are some of the main policy pledges in key areas: VACCINATIONS/HEALTH Draghi said vaccines must be administered "in all available centres, public and private," making use of the army, the civil protection agency and large numbers of volunteers. More broadly, he pledged to reform the health system by strengthening local hospitals and grass-roots community health services. Technological progress also allowed a greater role for remote care of patients in their home, he said. RECOVERY PLAN Italy's Recovery Plan, which it must finalise by the end of April to tap some 200 billion euros of EU funds, will be overseen by the Economy Ministry. While broad goals will be the same as in the draft prepared by the previous administration, Draghi promised it would be strengthened with details. Its main strategic objectives will be renewable energy production, tackling pollution, and boosting high speed railways, electric transport, the production and distribution of hydrogen, digitalisation, broadband internet and 5G. Whether Italy uses all the loans available in the Recovery Fund will depend on the state of its public finances. TAX REFORM Draghi promised an overhaul of the whole tax system, saying it is "not a good idea to change taxes one at a time." He pledged "deep changes to income tax" which would gradually reduce overhaul tax pressure while ensuring that tax rates increased according to income levels. EDUCATION Draghi said the government intends to "rapidly" return to face-to-face teaching for all students, possibly using a different timetable from the traditional one. It will also aim to recoup the hours lost during school closures due to the pandemic, especially in the poor southern part of Italy where remote schooling has been least successful. He said the government would invest more in teacher training, with "particular attention" to technical colleges needed to meet the challenges of digitalisation and the environment. He said tax reform "should be entrusted to experts," citing the positive example followed in 2008 by Denmark, which set up a special commission of tax specialists to draft a such a reform to present to parliament. EUROPE Draghi stressed his government's pro-EU identity. "Supporting this government means agreeing with the irreversibility of the choice of the euro, it means agreeing with the prospect of ever closer EU integration which will arrive at a common budget able to sustain countries in times of recession," he said. JUSTICE AND PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION Draghi said the government would act on the calls of the European Commission to accelerate its civil justice system by reforming its insolvency laws, simplifying procedures, hiring more staff and "by working to fight corruption". Broad public administration reform "cannot be delayed", Draghi said. Backlogs caused by the coronavirus crisis must be quickly overcome, computerisation expanded, personnel better trained and hiring procedures accelerated and made more efficient. * For full highlights click on REUTERS
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