Coronavirus: Italy approved $29 bln stimulus package to deal with COVID-19 impact

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The Italian government on Friday approved a stimulus package totalling 25 billion euros ($29 billion) to revive an economy battered by the coronavirus crisis.

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Italy was the first European country to be hit by the pandemic and a more than two-month lockdown dealt a severe blow the economy.

The package approved by the cabinet contains over 100 articles ranging from tax payments staggered over two years to guidelines on lay-offs.

“We are protecting jobs, we are supporting workers, we are reducing the tax burden, we are helping the regions,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told a press conference after a cabinet meeting.

Under the plan, there will be greater tax benefits for Italy’s southern regions, which are far less developed than the industrial north.

“We are aware of the lack of infrastructure in the south which is less competitive and we want this gap to be breached,” Conte added.

The plan, which also calls for cruise liners to resume sailing from August 15 and for trade fairs to take place from September, has to be approved by parliament, where the government enjoys a majority.

There is a provision for emergency monthly payments to vulnerable families ranging from 400 to 800 euros to be extended, and a sum of 500 million euros allotted for overtime payments to stretched health workers.

Conte also said social distancing and face masks would be mandatory until September 7, adding: “These are the minimum rules.”

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