Italy approves further billions in aid to counter pandemic’s effects

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Pedestrians wearing face masks walk on a street in Rome, Italy, March 10, 2020. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced late Monday that the whole of Italy will be placed under lockdown from Tuesday until April 3. (Xinhua/Cheng Tingting)
Pedestrians wearing face masks walk on a street in Rome, Italy, March 10, 2020. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced late Monday that the whole of Italy will be placed under lockdown from Tuesday until April 3. (Xinhua/Cheng Tingting)

dpa/GNA – Italy plans to provide further billions to help people and companies hard hit by the pandemic, according to the government.

The Council of Ministers approved a proposal of around 32 billion euros (38 billion dollars) late on Thursday to support workers, businesses and the health sector, along with families struggling due to the crisis unleashed by the novel coronavirus.

The plan sees the government move away from its budget to take on new debt, in a measure it said had already been reviewed by the European Commission.

Italy’s two houses of parliament, the Senate and Chamber of Deputies, had approved the 2021 budget at the end of last year, which already set aside billions in aid to counter the effects of the pandemic.

The governing coalition is in crisis, however, following the resignation of two ministers from the Italia Viva party, over a spat relating to the European Union’s coronavirus aid package.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is expected to make a statement on the issue to parliament on Monday.

Former prime minister Matteo Renzi’s Italia Viva party is small but key to the survival of the coalition, which also includes the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement (M5S).

Tensions among the parties have simmered for weeks over the use of around 210 billion euros (256 billion dollars) from the EU post-pandemic reconstruction fund.

The country has been hard hit by the pandemic, recording more than 80,000 deaths due to the virus and more than 2.3 million cases.

So far, some 972,000 people have been vaccinated against Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, of a populace of about 60 million.

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