Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who also heads the right-wing Lega Party, has called for taking control of Italy's gold reserves away from the country's central bank.
"The gold is the property of the Italian people, not of anyone else," Salvini underscored.
The comments came after he insisted that the management of the Bank of Italy should be "completely cleared out" because they failed to avert the country's banking crisis.
"We are here because those who should have supervised didn't supervise," Salvini said, adding that "fraudsters" who inflicted losses on Italian savers should "end up in prison for a long time".
The remarks followed a report in Italy's La Stampa's newspaper, claiming that the coalition government, formed by Salvini's anti-migration Lega Party and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (5SM), seeks to sell Bank of Italy reserves to fund additional government spending and avoid a planned VAT increase in 2020.
Salvini said that he has not studied the option in detail yet, but added that "it may be an interesting idea".
Claudio Borghi, close economic adviser of Salvini, for his part, called for adopting a law which he said could ensure that the Italian state rather than the Bank of Italy should be recognised as the ultimate owner of the country's gold reserves.
"Nobody wants to sell the ingots, in fact, quite the opposite, we want to prevent others from having their hands on it," Borghi wrote in a Tweet.
According to the World Gold Council, the Bank of Italy remains the world's third-largest holder of gold reserves behind the United States and Germany, owning 2,452 tonnes as of 2018.