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ECONOMY

Consumer confidence in Italy at four-year high

Consumer confidence in Italy has risen to the highest level since January 2010, according to the latest figures from national statistics agency, Istat, showing increasing optimism about the future of the country's economy.

Consumer confidence in Italy at four-year high
Shopping photo: Claudio Zaccherini/Shutterstock

In April consumer confidence in Italy rose to 105.4, the highest reading in more than four years, when the figure was 107.4, Italian news agency ANSA reported on Monday.

The figures show an increase compared to March when the reading was 101.9, which was itself the highest since June 2011. In February the reading was 97.7.

Despite Italy's unemployment hitting a record 13 percent in February, Istat said on Monday that the balance concerning unemployment expectations remained stable at 44.

These latest statistics are good news for Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s government, suggesting the new cabinet has had a positive impact on the national mood.

Earlier this month, Renzi hailed a “structural revolution” after his cabinet approved a round of tax and spending cuts including a limit of five chauffeured cars per government ministry.

In March inflation in Italy slowed again to 0.4 percent on a 12-month basis, amid growing concern over Europe's deflation risk.

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MONEY

Italy expands €200 payment scheme and introduces public transport bonus

Italy's government will extend its proposed one-time €200 benefit to more people and introduce a €60 public transport payment, Italian media reported on Thursday.

Italy expands €200 payment scheme and introduces public transport bonus

Seasonal workers, domestic and cleaning staff, the self-employed, the unemployed and those on Italy’s ‘citizens’ income’ will be added to the categories of people in Italy eligible for a one-off €200 payment, ministers reportedly announced on Thursday evening.

The one-time bonus, announced earlier this week as part of a package of financial measures designed to offset the rising cost of living, was initially set to be for pensioners and workers on an income of less than €35,000 only.

However the government has now agreed to extend the payment to the additional groups following pressure from Italy’s labour, families, and regional affairs ministers and representatives of the Five Star Movement, according to news agency Ansa.

Pensioners and employees will reportedly receive the €200 benefit between June and July via a direct payment into their pension slip or pay packet.

For other groups, a special fund will be created at the Labour Ministry and the procedures for claiming and distributing payments detailed in an incoming decree, according to the Corriere della Sera news daily.

One new measure introduced at the cabinet meeting on Thursday is the introduction of a one-time €60 public transport bonus for students and workers earning below €35,000. The bonus is reportedly designed to encourage greater use of public transport and will take the form of an e-voucher that can be used when purchasing a bus, train or metro season pass.

Other provisions reportedly proposed in the energy and investment decree (decreto energia e investimenti), which is still being adjusted and amended, include extending energy bill discounts, cutting petrol excise duty and rolling on the deadline to claim Italy’s popular ‘superbonus 110’.

The €14 billion aid package, intended to lessen the economic impact of the war in Ukraine, will “fight the higher cost of living” and is “a temporary situation”, Prime Minister Mario Draghi has said.

The Local will report further details of the payment scheme once they become available following final approval of the decree.

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