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Italian cabinet approves 25-billion-euro stimulus package

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

Italian cabinet approves 25-billion-euro stimulus package
Illustration photo, Rome: Tiziana FABI / AFP

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.”

  

Member comments

  1. Only 8 months into the virus and NOW the EU and Italian cabinet get around to an economic rescue package! The failure of the EU to act much sooner when needed aid was crucial to failing businesses simply highlights the utter corruption and ineptness of this bureaucratic monstrosity. And now to add to Italians distrust of government, we will have to stand by and watch these billions be funneled off to various cabinet ministers, their family-run businesses, and the mafia. Once again, the average Italian will simply shrug their shoulders, for they have seen this story many times before. Very few of these EUs will make their way to those in need. Will Italian ever wake up and repudiate the daily corruption and the EU, who is intent on allowing Italy to become a warehouse for illegal immigrants? Not a chance!

  2. Paolo must be drinking the kool-aid as they say in the US. Solidarity, hardly, good work by Conte, one must set their expectations very very low to consider it good work. The true test will be how much of these billions actually get to the people who need it. If history is our guide, then I bet not much! Meanwhile, migrants continues to flood our shores….good work Conte!

  3. The main problem with this record-breaking stimulus package is essentially the same one of all its predecessors over the last decade. Not only does the EU like to redistribute wealth from the north to the south with clockwork regularity, but all these plans also fail to incorporate any kind of serious checks and balances about where and how the money is spent. As a result, we keep seeing massive waste and levels of corruption that are normally associated with developing economies. The scale of this most recent package alone brings this issue into sharper focus, especially as it is underlaid by a joint borrowing scheme that enables poorer EU countries to take out cheap loans using the creditworthiness of their richer neighbors, which act as guarantors. The harsh negotiations brought to the surface once again the deep economic, structural, and cultural divide between north and south. This divide has been at the core of every serious political and economic crisis in the bloc so far, and its reemergence served as yet another reminder of how unnatural, forced, and unsustainable the integration vision of the Europhiles really is. Their wider strategic aims, much like this covid relief package itself, are nothing more than a massive redistribution of wealth and a vain effort to impose uniformity on a radically diverse group of national identities, economic profiles, and local political realities. All these loans and handouts will be financed through an unprecedented amount of debt, which is unsustainable and myopic in and of itself. There no real strings attached when it comes to transparency and the all practical aspects of how the funds will be used, but there are heavily political requirements. For example, 30 percent of the aid must be spent on a “green” agenda and on combating climate change. It might be wrapped in idealistic and melodramatic language, e.g., “rescuing our shared European future,” but what this deal is really about is a blatant power grab.

  4. We don’t need US-style conspiracy theories here. This was a well fought compromise to help bolster the countries that suffered most, which also encouraging and providing some guarantees to concerned countries over how money will be spent.

    Leave the global economics and politics to those qualified.

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COVID-19

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

As the infection rate rises sharply across the country, Italian virologists are calling for concerts and festivals to be rescheduled.

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

Italy has seen a large increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in recent days, so much so that a number of virologists across the country are now urging the government to postpone major live events in a bid to curb infections. 

According to a new report by Italy’s independent health watchdog, the Gimbe Foundation, 595,349 new cases were recorded in the week from June 29th to July 5th; a worrying 55 percent increase on the previous week. 

In the same time span, the country also registered a 32.8 percent rise in the number of hospitalised patients, which went from 6,035 to 8,003.  

The latest Covid wave, which is being driven by the highly contagious Omicron 5 variant, is a “real cause for concern”, especially in terms of a “potential patient overload”, said Nino Cartabellotta, president of the Gimbe Foundation. 

As Italian cities prepare to host a packed calendar of concerts and festivals this summer, health experts are questioning whether such events should actually take place given the high risk of transmission associated with mass gatherings.

READ ALSO: What tourists in Italy need to know if they get Covid-19

“Rescheduling these types of events would be the best thing to do right now,” said Massimo Ciccozzi, Director of Epidemiology at Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome. 

The summer wave is expected to peak in mid-July but, Ciccozzi warns, the upcoming live events might “delay [the peak] until the end of July or even beyond” and extend the infection curve.

Antonello Maruotti, Professor of Statistics at LUMSA University of Rome, recently shared Ciccozzi’s concerns, saying that live events as big as Maneskin’s scheduled Rome concert are “definitely not a good idea”. 

The Italian rock band are slated to perform at the Circus Maximus on Saturday, July 9th but the expected turnout – over 70,000 fans are set to attend the event – has raised objections from an array of Italian doctors, with some warning that the concert might cause as many as 20,000 new cases.

If it were to materialise, the prospected scenario would significantly aggravate Lazio’s present medical predicament as there are currently over 186,000 Covid cases in the region (nearly 800 patients are receiving treatment in local hospitals). 

Italian rock band Maneskin performing in Turin

Italian rock band Maneskin are expected to perform at the Circus Maximus in Rome on Saturday, July 9th. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

But, despite pleas to postpone the event, it is likely that Maneskin’s concert will take place as scheduled.

Alessandro Onorato, Rome’s Tourism Councillor, said that rescheduling is “out of question” and that “all recommendations from the local medical authorities will be adopted” with the help of the event’s organisers and staff on the ground.

At the time of writing, there is also no indication that the Italian government will consider postponing other major live events scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, though the situation is evolving rapidly and a U-turn on previous dispositions can’t be ruled out.

READ ALSO: At a glance: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

On this note, it is worth mentioning that Italy has now scrapped all of its former Covid measures except the requirement to wear FFP2 face masks on public transport (though not on planes) and in healthcare settings.

The use of face coverings is, however, still recommended in all crowded areas, including outdoors – exactly the point that leading Italian doctors are stressing in the hope that live events will not lead to large-scale infection.

Antonio Magi, President of Rome’s OMCEO (College of Doctors, Surgeons and Dentists), said: “Our advice is to wear FFP2 masks […] in high-risk situations.”

“I hope that young people will heed our recommendations and think about the health risks that their parents or grandparents might be exposed to after the event [they attend].”

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