A recording has emerged of the Italian government’s chief spokesman threatening to “eliminate a tide” of treasury officials unless they find the money for projects, including a basic income grant, promised in March elections.

The recording, made by two Huffington Post journalists and widely distributed by Italian media on Sunday, threatens to embarrass

Italy’s populist government is caught in a scandal involving the government’s chief spokesman. Rocco Casalino has been recorded threatening to “eliminate in a tide” of treasury officials unless they find money for projects promised in March elections.

Aligned to the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), Casalino warns on tape of a “mega-vendetta” against finance ministry functionaries “if they do not find the money”.

“The year 2019 will be dedicated to eliminating a tide of members of the finance ministry. The knives will be out,” he can be heard saying.

As reported by the Agence France-Presse (AFP), Casalino, spokesman for the government of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, said on September 23 the recording was made during a “private conversation” with the journalists, and complained of a “violation of confidentiality” – a charge the Huffington Post rejected.

In related news, the Italian news agency ANSA reported on September 21 that the country’s Deputy Premier and Labour and Industry Minister Luigi Di Maio said that only Italians will be eligible for the government’s ‘citizenship wage’ basic income when it is introduced.