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Greener transport, less red tape: Italy announces post-Covid economic recovery plan

Published: 27/04/2021 By The Abode Team

Italy's government on Monday is presenting its 222-billion-euro ($270-billion) post-Covid recovery plan to parliament for approval.

On Monday Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi presented his government’s recovery plan to parliament, saying it would decide the fate and credibility of the country. “In the set of programmes that I present to you today there is above all the country’s destiny, the extent of its role in the international community, its credibility and reputation as a founder of the EU and leading player in the western world,” he told the lower chamber.

Italy was the first European country to be hit by the pandemic in early 2020 and remains one of the worst affected, with the EU’s highest reported death toll and one of the deepest recessions. The country is pinning its hopes on a 222.1-billion-euro investment and reform plan funded largely by the European Union.

Italy, with the eurozone’s third-largest economy, is set to be the biggestrecipient of the bloc’s 750-billion-euro post-pandemic recovery fund. Draghi told lawmakers on Monday that his plan would help “repair the economic and social damage” caused by the pandemic. More than 119,000 people with coronavirus have died in Italy, while the economy contracted by 8.9 percent last year and a million jobs have been lost. But Draghi said the plan also “addresses some weaknesses that have plagued our economy and our society for decades”. It’s estimated that the funds would improve Italy’s GDP by 3.6% by 2026.

The government said the plan represents a significant investment in both young people and women, particularly hard hit by unemployment. Businesses will have financial incentives to recruit people from both categories. The five-year plan has six main elements.

Nearly 50 billion euros will go towards a push to get Italy’s internet network up to speed.

The building superbonus, which provides state aid to renovate old and energy-inefficient housing in Italy, is also pegged to get a wedge of the recovery fund.

Nearly 68 billion euros will go towards a “green revolution and ecological transition”. Projects include plans to increase recycling and to relaunch local public road and rail transport using less polluting vehicles. The government also wants to invest in renewable energy and explore hydrogen power. Italy will put 31.4 billion euros towards modernising the country’s transport infrastructure, prioritising regional rail services and high-speed trains.

It will spend 31.9 billion euros on education on research, and more places for young children in creches and nursery schools.

And as part of its social inclusion initiative it will invest 22.4 billion euros in helping people get into the workplace, investing in women’s businesses for example. There will be 18.5 billion euros set aside for work to reinforce preventive health work and the computerisation of the healthcare system.

At the same time, the government has vowed to modernise the country’s public administration system, getting younger people in and improving training.

Reforms will also try to speed up the court system and cut red tape in the country’s administrative procedures.

The plan will go before both chambers of parliament this week for approval, starting Monday. The European Commission set a deadline of April 30th for receiving each government’s final plan for using their share of the recovery pot.