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Draghi from Italy presents ‘epic’ virus recovery plan

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi is presenting Parliament with a € 222.1 billion ($ 268.6 billion) coronavirus recovery plan

ROME – Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi is presenting a € 222.1 billion ($ 268.6 billion) coronavirus recovery plan to Parliament on Monday, with the aim not only of recovering from the pandemic, but also to enact “memorable” reforms to solve structural problems that predate COVID-19.

Italy has the largest share of the EU’s 750 billion euro ($ 907 billion) recovery pot, with 191.5 billion euros ($ 231.6 billion) of its six-year plan financed by EU funds . Draghi, the former head of the European Central Bank, was placed in the premier’s office specifically to ensure that money was not wasted, as Italy has long had one of the EU’s worst records on the use of available funds.

The plan involves many investments to modernize and digitize Italy’s economy and bureaucracy and stimulate environmentally sustainable development. Both are aimed especially at the extremely important tourism industry – think of Venice, the Colosseum and Amalfi coast resorts – which account for 13% of Italy’s gross domestic product and have been devastated by pandemic-related closures.

Employment options for women and young people are prioritized, as youth unemployment reaches 30% and Italy has long been the last place in the EU in terms of the percentage of women in the workforce. Women accounted for more than half of the 456,000 jobs lost in Italy last year.

Here’s a look at Italy’s plans, which were announced on the same day that most of the country began to emerge from its last coronavirus blockade, with the reopening of museums and restaurants and bars open for outdoor service.

DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION AND EMPLOYMENT

About 27% of the plan is aimed at the digital transformation of the Italian economy and public administration, expanding access to high-speed Internet service, especially in schools, and providing incentives for the private sector to digitize.

About 22.4 billion euros ($ 27 billion) are earmarked for “social inclusion” investments and programs to increase training and employment opportunities for women and help cities improve access and opportunities for people with disabilities. deficiency. The objective of both, together with the increase in daycare centers, is to remove the obstacles that traditionally keep Italian women at home taking care of young people, the elderly, the sick and the disabled.

The plan predicts that the Italian economy, which shrank 8.8% last year, will grow by 3.6 percentage points in addition to basic forecasts in 2026 and that its employment rate will grow by 3.2 percentage points.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

The EU demanded that at least 37% of its funds go to climate-related investments, part of the bloc’s goal of reducing 55% of greenhouse gases by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050.

Italy’s plan is directing 40% of the total, or 68.6 billion euros ($ 82.9 billion), to green investments and initiatives: boosting recycling, reforming public transport systems to favor low-emission vehicles and reduce water waste through improvements to waterways.

The plan calls for about € 31.4 billion ($ 37.9 billion) in improvements to transportation infrastructure and the extension of high-speed rail lines across the peninsula, especially in the underserved south.

EDUCATION AND RESEARCH

Among other things, the plan aims to create 152,000 more nurseries for babies and 76,000 for preschoolers, addressing a structural shortage that has long deterred parents from having children and women from working.

Other destinations for the investment of 31.9 billion euros (US $ 38.5 billion) in education and research is to renovate dilapidated school buildings and better connect them, in addition to renewing the higher education curriculum to encourage more students to seek courses higher.

Italy has long suffered from the brain drain, with its brightest students pursuing advanced degrees and jobs abroad, without returning.

HEALTH CARE

The structural weakness of Italy’s national health system was fully apparent during the pandemic, when hospitals in northern Lombardy were overwhelmed and general practitioners were left on their own to care for sick patients while Italy became the epicenter of the outbreak in Europe.

The 18.5 billion euros (US $ 22.3 billion) investment in health aims to strengthen, in particular, general medicine and preventive care provided at the local level, with the strengthening of home care and telemedicine. The improvements in the digital infrastructure aim to improve data analysis.

REFORMS

Italy’s lethargic justice system and complicated bureaucracy have long been accused of discouraging foreign investment, as lawsuits and criminal trials can last for years and granting permissions to do just about anything can take just as long.

The reform of the judicial system aims to reduce the accumulation of judicial files with temporary hiring, while revising rules and procedures to encourage more resources for mediation.

Other reforms focus on modernizing Italy’s old and outdated public administration, with the aim of increasing turnover to hire more young people, digitizing systems, simplifying authorization procedures and increasing competition, especially in public services and public services.

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