“The basic income is in the budget and anyone who says otherwise is lying,” he wrote on Facebook, after reports that the scheme, along with pension reforms, will be removed from the 2019 budget due to demands from Brussels.
Expected to cost 10 billion euros next year, basic income is the most expensive item in a big-spending 'people's budget' which itself has raised concerns in the European Union that Italy could be sowing the seeds of a financial crisis.
The planned budget, which proposed to increase public spending, was rejected by the European Commission.
Italy has until November 13 to submit a revised budget, and President Sergio Mattarella has promised a “constructive dialogue” with Europe's institutions.
“There's beef in the budget, there's the money”, Di Maio said, adding that the decree will be issued “at Christmas or straight after.”
The basic income scheme was the centrepiece of M5S’s populist election campaign. It promised up to 780 euros per month for low earners and unemployed people searching for work.
The government says the measure is aimed at alleviating ‘emergency’ levels of poverty in Italy. Current unemployment schemes in the country offer a far smaller amount of money and little help with finding work.
But many critics of the basic income scheme, including members of M5S government coalition partner, the League, have said it would be too complicated, impractical or expensive to implement. Many expect it to be reduced or cut altogether in the revised budget.
But instead, Di Maio insists the cuts will be to oil industry tax breaks, media funding, and so-called golden pensions for ministers.
The M5S leader also said there would “soon” be a measure to cut MPs' pay.
League sources reportedly said they had” no intention to block the basic income” and that there was “no clash” with the M5S on this point.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who is close to the M5S, has previously said that “the basic income will be brought in starting in 2019, gradually.”
The M5S and the League have been at odds over some policy moves, notably whether or not to halt major infrastructure projects such as the controversial TAP gas pipeline in southern Italy.