Finance minister Giulio Tremonti
Eighty billion euro to spur the economy, protect those most at risk and stimulate consumer spending: the new stimulus package comes as Italy faces an economically bleak 2009. The country's national statistics bureau, Istat, officially announced on November 28 that the Italian economy is in a recession, the first since 2005 and the worst since 1992-1993.
Finance minister Giulio Tremonti unveiled the latest plan to keep the wheels of the Italian economy running, which includes tax breaks for companies and low-income households as well as measures intended to ensure that banks keep lending to businesses.
Of the 80 billion euro package, 2.4 billion euro will go to low-income families. The ‘social card' envisioned by Tremonti will give low-income families and pensioners who earn less than 15,000 euro a year a bonus ranging from 200 to 1,000 euro. Six-member families earning less than 20,000 euro will also receive a 15 percent break for electricity and gas. Families with disabled members will receive as much as 35,000 euro. To get the bonus, workers must register through their employer or Inps office by January 31, 2009.
Moreover, contract workers can get bonuses of up to 5 percent of their annual salaries. Other measures aim to ensure liquidity for banks, speed up tax reimbursements, help homeowners finance or refinance their mortgages, provide tax breaks for small businesses, crack down on tax evasion and freeze prices of train and motorway transport until April 2009. To help commuters, regional train fees will be frozen for all of 2009.
Tremonti maintains that the package will not overburden the state budget or increase public debt and that Italy would remain within the European Union's deficit limits.