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ECONOMY

MP says Portugal should sell its gold to save itself

Portugal, the third eurozone country to ask for a financial bailout, should first sell its gold reserves, a German member of parliament suggested on Thursday.

MP says Portugal should sell its gold to save itself
Photo: DPA

“Before risking other people’s money Portugal should first sell its family jewels, especially its gold reserves,” Frank Schäffler, a member of the pro-business FDP liberal party, told Bild newspaper.

Schäffler last year made himself hugely unpopular with Greece when, at the height of its financial crisis, he suggested they sell off some of their numerous islands to help pay for an international bailout.

IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn and EU Economy Commissioner Olli Rehn warned on Thursday that the Portuguese people would have to deliver “truly national” and “major” reform efforts in exchange for a €78 billion ($116 billion) bailout which has just been agreed.

Portugal held gold reserves worth some $17.5 billion last month, accounting for some 80 percent of its overall reserves, according to IMF figures.

The country is already seeing something of a gold rush, but only because the country’s debt-strapped population is selling off jewellery to pay monthly bills.

“The sector is witnessing a real boom,” according to Rui Pinhao, director of Valores, which catapulted to leader in the used gold market over the last two years with 150 franchises across the country.

The Local/AFP/mdm

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MONEY

Italy expands €200 payment scheme and introduces public transport bonus

Italy's government will extend its proposed one-time €200 benefit to more people and introduce a €60 public transport payment, Italian media reported on Thursday.

Italy expands €200 payment scheme and introduces public transport bonus

Seasonal workers, domestic and cleaning staff, the self-employed, the unemployed and those on Italy’s ‘citizens’ income’ will be added to the categories of people in Italy eligible for a one-off €200 payment, ministers reportedly announced on Thursday evening.

The one-time bonus, announced earlier this week as part of a package of financial measures designed to offset the rising cost of living, was initially set to be for pensioners and workers on an income of less than €35,000 only.

However the government has now agreed to extend the payment to the additional groups following pressure from Italy’s labour, families, and regional affairs ministers and representatives of the Five Star Movement, according to news agency Ansa.

Pensioners and employees will reportedly receive the €200 benefit between June and July via a direct payment into their pension slip or pay packet.

For other groups, a special fund will be created at the Labour Ministry and the procedures for claiming and distributing payments detailed in an incoming decree, according to the Corriere della Sera news daily.

One new measure introduced at the cabinet meeting on Thursday is the introduction of a one-time €60 public transport bonus for students and workers earning below €35,000. The bonus is reportedly designed to encourage greater use of public transport and will take the form of an e-voucher that can be used when purchasing a bus, train or metro season pass.

Other provisions reportedly proposed in the energy and investment decree (decreto energia e investimenti), which is still being adjusted and amended, include extending energy bill discounts, cutting petrol excise duty and rolling on the deadline to claim Italy’s popular ‘superbonus 110’.

The €14 billion aid package, intended to lessen the economic impact of the war in Ukraine, will “fight the higher cost of living” and is “a temporary situation”, Prime Minister Mario Draghi has said.

The Local will report further details of the payment scheme once they become available following final approval of the decree.

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