Bank of Italy lowers country’s 2022 growth forecast

Italy's central bank revised down its forecast for the country's growth in 2022 on Friday due to the Omicron variant, which has sparked a recent surge of coronavirus cases.

Palazzo Koch, Rome
Bank of Italy in Rome. Photo: Szilas / WikiCommons

The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) is set to grow by 3.8 percent this year, it said, lowering a projection of 4.0 percent made just one month ago.

Growth slowed “sharply” in the last quarter of 2021, due to “the resurgence of the pandemic”, the bank said in its quarterly forecasting bulletin.

Italy reported nearly 180,000 new coronavirus cases on Friday and 373 deaths. The bank said the latest wave had hurt consumer confidence.

The country is expected to see its job figures improve just slightly this year and next, with unemployment falling from 9.4 percent last year to 9.0 percent in 2022 and 8.9 percent in 2023.

Those figures remain well above the eurozone rate of 7.2 percent in November.

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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.