The Italian government approved a nearly $60 billion economic stimulus package in order to alleviate the economic burden caused by the coronavirus, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said after a cabinet meeting Wednesday.
The economic stimulus includes various tax breaks and grants for both businesses and corporations, such as childcare subsidies and incentives for the tourism industry, Reuters reports. The stimulus follows on the heels of a $27 billion package introduced in March that included fiscal aid, although the current package is far larger in scope.
Conte’s political coalition, which was formed Sept. 2019 between the populist Five Star Movement and the center-left Democratic Party, struggled to agree on several aspects of the stimulus, leading to a delay between the March package and the current package. “We have worked on this decree aware that the country is in great difficulty,” Conte assured.
Italy has been hit hard by the coronavirus, with more than 222,000 cases and more than 31,000 deaths. The government forecasts that the economy will shrink around 8% in 2020 and that its budget deficit will rise to 10.4% of the country’s gross domestic product, according to the Reuters report. (RELATED: Italy Resorts To Transporting Bodies In Army Trucks After Coronavirus Overwhelms Cemeteries)
After two months of strict lockdown measures, Italy is beginning to open up and ease its social restrictions. Nearly 4.5 million people are expected to go back to work starting this month, and public spaces such as churches are beginning to open up again.
Italy’s process of reopening made the passage of the economic stimulus all the more urgent, and Conte stated that the stimulus provides the tools to ensure “that this phase of reopening can already offer the prospect of economic and social recovery.”