ROME: The Italian government on Thursday approved a 40-billion-euros (48.9 billion U.S. dollars) relief package to support the country's businesses and workers affected by the COVID-19 restrictions.
The new relief measures included 17 billion euros of financial aid to companies, and nine billion euros for business credit support, according to Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
Another four billion euros will be destined to the labor market, with various measures to support the most vulnerable workers and unemployed people.
In addition, the package will also extend financial support to 370,000 more self-employed workers, said Draghi.
However, the prime minister warned that the country will not reach a "sustained growth" until the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) -- mostly funded through the European Union (EU) recovery program -- starts being implemented.
"We expect the economy to bounce during this quarter already, so our forecasts for the year will likely be revised upwards," Draghi said at a joint press conference.
Draghi said that the ongoing coronavirus vaccination plan was a main driver behind the moderate optimism.
More than 29 million doses of vaccines had been administered across the country and 9.3 million people had been fully immunized as of Thursday, official figures showed.
"The success of the COVID-19 vaccination plan is allowing us to carry on with the reopening under what we call a 'calculated risk'... and, if we defeat the pandemic, the country is going to go back to growth," Draghi said.
Among other measures, the support package will make it easier for young people to get a first-home mortgage, including a state guarantee for low-income young couples up to 80 percent of their entire financial exposure.
It also allocated 50 million euros for the current year to a new Italian fund for basic scientific research in an effort to reverse the current brain drain of Italian researchers. (1 euro = 1.22 U.S. dollars).