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Coronavirus: 7.5 bn for families, firms - Conte

Coronavirus: 7.5 bn for families, firms - Conte

Gualtieri says letter sent to EC, measures 'sustainable'

Rome, 06 March 2020, 11:04

Redazione ANSA




Premier Giuseppe Conte said Thursday the cabinet had earmarked 7.5 billion euros "to support families and businesses that are facing the (coronavirus) emergency".
    "They are extraordinary and urgent measures", he said.
    "On the deficit there has not been any leap into the dark", he said, and stressed "the EU will understand".
    "These are significant resources for immediate needs,"said Economy Minister Roberto Gualtieri.
    He said the deviation from debt ceilings would be "7.5 billion in terms of net deficit to be financed: technically they are 6.35 billion in terms of debt".
    Gualtieri said a letter requesting this budget flexibility had been sent to the European Commission and the measures were "sustainable". Gualtieri said the relevant decree would contain a moratorium on business credits to banks.
    He said the ministers had been given the proposals of the opposition parties too "to get suggestions for new measures on the coronavirus emergency".
    The proposals came from the League, Forza Italia (FI) and Brothers of Italy (FdI), he said.
    Asked about FdI leader Georgia Meloni's characterisation of the government's action as "criminals" and League leader Matteo Salvini's assertion the government can't cope with the emergency, Conte said "attacks against me are slaps in the face for the Italians".
    The Italian government is set to request the green light for a deviation of 6.3 billion euros from its budget deficit target, around 0.35% of GDP, from the European Commission as it tries to cope with the coronavirus, government sources said after a cabinet meeting. The government is preparing to set aside 7.5 billion euros worth of new measures, the sources said. European Economic Affairs Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said Thursday that the EU executive will assess Italy's request for extra flexibility in the application of its budget rules because of the coronavirus emergency with a "spirit of great attention and great solidarity". Gentiloni said he expects to receive the letter with the request on Thursday or Friday.
    The cabinet also asked Justice Minister Alfonso Bonafede to out off trials due to the virus, asking courthouses to provide only essential services.
    As for extending the closure of schools and universities beyond March 15, Conte said there would be an update on this before the current closure period ends.


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