The Italian government is to further reduce its holdings in the country's main power companies according to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Mr Berlusconi revealed the plans in a speech about the Italian state budget for 2006. The government plans to sell off further shares in electricity utility Enel and oil and natural-gas giant Eni, as well as aerospace and defense company Finmeccanica, as part of an ongoing privatization plan.

The sales will allow Italy to close the gap on EU liberalization goals, while also earning the state purse up to E30 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal. Italy, which has already divested its ownership of the majority of the energy outfits, will reduce its holding to around 10% as a result of this latest divestment.

Mr Berlusconi’s government needs to recoup funds as Italy’s current debt burden of 106.2% of gross domestic product is the highest in western Europe.