(Corrects spelling of Raffaele in the first paragraph.)
Sicilian Governor Raffaele Lombardo, under pressure from Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti to safeguard the region from default, vowed to protect public- sector jobs, citing the island’s 26,000 park rangers.
“If someone in Rome or some fake entrepreneur thinks that I’m going to fire these people, they can go to hell,” Lombardo said today in a televised press conference, referring to the rangers and about 18,500 others on the public payroll. “I won’t destroy the lives of 50,000 people.”
Lombardo’s resistance demonstrates the challenge facing Monti as he seeks to ensure Italy’s creditworthiness. The premier, who forced budget cuts on Italy’s 20 regions by this month, focused on Sicily this week when he warned the island was at risk of default and pressed Lombardo to confirm his intention to resign.
Lombardo said yesterday in a statement that he will step down. He was elected in 2003 to lead Italy’s poorest region with about 5 million people.
The Sicilian Forestry Department employs about 24,000 workers, according to its website. That compares with 404 park rangers employed by the Northern Italian region of Piedmont and the 600 by Lombardy, according to the magazine Panorama.
To contact the reporters on this story: Andrew Frye in Rome at email@example.com; Lorenzo Totaro in Rome at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at email@example.com