Italy's PM expected to resign
Mario Monti is expected to resign as Italy's Prime Minister, keeping his pledge to step down as soon as Parliament gives final passage to the budget law.
In what could be his last official act as premier, Monti told foreign diplomats in Rome on Friday (Saturday, NZ time) that his year-old technical government had rendered the country ''more trustworthy" and ''competitive and attractive to foreign investors".
Italian news reports say he is expected to hand in his resignation on Friday evening, local time, after his last Cabinet meeting.
"The work we did in the last 12 months has made the country more trustworthy, besides more competitive and attractive to foreign investors," Monti told diplomats, who gave him a standing ovation.
"I hope that it can continue this way also in the next legislative session."
Monti cited structural reforms, such as measures to improve competition and liberalise services, as well as the recently approved anti-corruption law.
Monti took over as head of a technical government in November 2011 as Italy's borrowing costs soared in a clear market vote of no-confidence in Silvio Berlusconi's ability to reform Italy's economy.
Monti pledged to resign after Berlusconi's parliamentary party yanked its support for his government, accelerating national elections now expected in February.
Earlier on Friday, Monti quipped the impending end of his technical government "was not the fault of the Mayan prophecy".
Monti will give his year-end news conference on Sunday, when he is expected to announce whether he will participate in the election campaign.
Berlusconi has been toying with a return to electoral politics - after inviting Monti to run under a conservative banner.
The leader of the center-left Pier Luigi Bersani is among those critical of a Monti candidacy.