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Today in Italy: A roundup of the latest news on Friday

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The Local Italy - [email protected]
Today in Italy: A roundup of the latest news on Friday
Front view of a central Rome building undergoing renovation work in May 2020. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

Italy approves inquiry into pandemic response, Albania migrant deal to go ahead, building bonuses' soaring cost and more news from Italy on Friday.

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Italy's top story on Friday:

Italy’s lower house of parliament gave final approval on Thursday to an inquiry into the government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

An inquiry commission will be created to examine control measures and the individual actions of former prime minister Giuseppe Conte and former health minister Roberto Speranza, according to media reports.

The move was hailed as a victory by the relatives of Covid victims, while Conte accused the current government of creating an “abnormal tool” to conduct a personal attack on his cabinet.

Italy was the first western country to report a Covid outbreak and has Europe's second-highest death toll, after the UK, at over 196,000.

Senate approves controversial Italy-Albania migrant deal

Italy’s Senate on Thursday gave the final seal of approval to a contested government deal under which asylum seekers rescued at sea by the Italian coast guard will be held in two migrant centres in Albania.

The agreement, signed in November by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and her Albanian counterpart Edi Rama, makes provisions for the Albanian centres to house up to 3,000 people, excluding minors, pregnant women and individuals with medical conditions, at any one time while Italy examines their asylum requests.

The plan has so far been the target of widespread criticism from rights groups and opposition forces in both countries, with the UN raising questions about its compliance with international refugee law.

Though Meloni vowed to curb migrant arrivals from North Africa in the lead-up to the October 2022 election, Italy saw some 158,000 landings in 2023, up by over 50,000 compared to 2022.

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Building bonus costs Italy €135 billion 

Two of Italy’s most popular building incentives, the ‘superbonus 110’ and the ‘facade bonus’ (or bonus facciate), have so far cost public finances some 135 billion euros – that's nearly 100 billion over original estimates, Italian media reported on Thursday.

Reports also indicated that the two bonuses may cost state coffers a further 22 million euros a year for the next three years, possibly pushing the final bill over the 200-billion mark.

First introduced in 2020 in a bid to boost Italy’s construction industry, the schemes later experienced major credit transfer issues that stalled countless home renovation projects and left thousands of construction businesses at risk of bankruptcy.

While the facade bonus was discontinued in 2022, the superbonus is still available, albeit in a limited capacity after amendments aimed at easing its burden on state finances.

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