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ECONOMY

OECD more upbeat about Italy’s economy

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is feeling more upbeat about Italy’s economic prospects, going so far as to revise its growth forecasts for 2015 and 2016.

OECD more upbeat about Italy's economy
The OECD’s chief economist Catherine Mann praised Italy's ambitious reforms. Photo: Eric Piermont/AFP

In its latest economic assessment, the OECD said Italy would see a growth rate of 0.6 percent this year and 1.3 percent in 2016.

The brighter outlook is thanks to Italy’s ambitious reforms package, which includes an overhaul of the labour market and taxation system, the OECD’s chief economist Catherine Mann said during a press conference on Wednesday.

“Italy has gone from stalling on reform to having an excellent reform pace and that's why we are more positive about the future prospects," she was quoted by Ansa as saying.

"There are opportunities for the country.”

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s reforms also include a revamp of the electoral process and the painfully sluggish judicial system as well as the education system.

In a report in February, the OECD said the real game-changer would be the so-called Jobs Act, which was backed by the Senate in December and aims to bring more flexibility to Italy’s job market.

Elsewhere in Europe, Germany is forecast to grow by 1.7 percent in 2015 and 2.2 percent in 2016, and France by 1.1 percent in 2015 and 1.7 percent in 2016.

Low oil prices and monetary easing are boosting growth in the world’s major economies, the organization said.

However, the near-term pace of expansion remains modest, with abnormally low inflation and interest rates pointing to risks of financial instability.

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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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