Italy approves €55 billion stimulus package

Italy to grant temporary status to undocumented migrants, especially in agricultural sector.

The Italian government has approved a €55 billion stimulus package to tackle the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis by helping Italy's hard-hit businesses and struggling families, reports news agency ANSA.

Flanked by government ministers, Italian premier Giuseppe Conte announced the decree - which takes immediate effect - during a press conference at Palazzo Chigi late on 13 May.

Stating that he was "aware that the country is in great difficulty," Conte said the decree "provides the prerequisites so that this phase of reopening can immediately offer the prospect of an economic and social recovery."

The stimulus package comprises grants and tax breaks for businesses, temporarily freezing corporate tax for all companies with an annual turnover below €250 million and providing non-repayable aid of up to €40,000 to small businesses.

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The decree also allocated €25.6 billion to help employees and the self-employed, including additional funding for temporary layoff schemes; €3.2 billion for the health care system; €1.4 billion for schools, universities and research; and €1.2 billion for the food and agricultural sector.

The package also provides incentives for the devastated tourism and hospitality sectors, unemployment benefits, and support for low-income families, including a €500 holiday grant and subsidies for childcare.

Undocumented migrants

The decree will also allow undocumented migrants to obtain work permits to enable them to be hired as farm labourers or carers.

This is expected to have a particular impact on the agricultural sector where the exploitation of migrants is rampant, with many working under the illegal gang-master system.

The move will regularise hundreds of thousands of "invisible" workers, giving them access to healthcare, and was pushed through by agriculture minister Teresa Bellanova, who left school to work in the fields at the age of 14.

Announcing the measure during the live broadcast, Bellanova was moved to tears, stating: "From today the invisibles will be less invisible."