Cash no longer king in Italy as COVID helps government push for plastic

By Elisa Anzolin and Gavin Jones

ROME/MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s love affair with cash is fading. The coronavirus is turning Italians off notes and coins and the government is launching a raft of incentives to accelerate the trend, believing plastic payment can curb rampant tax evasion.

The Treasury estimates some 109 billion euros of tax is evaded annually, equal to about 21% of the revenue actually collected. The government believes the problem can be tackled by boosting digital payments which, unlike cash, leave a trace.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is offering refunds on some money spent electronically, tax breaks for outlets with card machines and a new 50-million euro ($58.93 million) state lottery for card users only.

The coronavirus, which forced the government to lock down the economy between March and May, is helping his efforts.

“We have seen a surge in digital payments since the lockdown, I think mainly

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Italy’s government showed the world how to take responsibility in a pandemic | Italy

If there ever was an unlikely country to be designated a model of collective civility, that’s Italy. My native land is usually depicted as a beautiful place whose abundance of natural and cultural treasures is entrusted, alas, to its disorganised, corrupt, unruly inhabitants.

And yet everybody these days seems to be lavishing praise on us: the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal are all describing as exemplary the way in which we Italians have clawed ourselves out of the tragic pit we were in this spring, as coronavirus raged and convoys of military trucks had to be deployed to carry the coffins – they were so many.

We’ve certainly come a long way from being described, as we were at the pandemic’s start, as the usual irresponsible incompetents for allowing such a disaster to happen, or for sentencing to death an already terminally ill economy

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IOC president warns Italy over government interference

Published 10:01 a.m. ET Sept. 28, 2020

ROME (AP) — Italy’s Olympic team risks the humiliation of being placed on probation for the Tokyo Games if the country’s sports minister does not back down amid a two-year-long dispute that amounts to government interference, IOC president Thomas Bach said.

In an extraordinary step designed to put pressure on Vincenzo Spadafora, Italy’s sports minister, Bach also suggested that the alleged interference could — under extreme circumstances — result in the country being stripped of hosting rights for the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Bach has taken issue with the Italian government’s creation of a new organization, Sport e Salute, that was created at the start of last year to run the country’s sports finances, which were previously controlled by an arm of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI).

“We are very concerned about the situation of CONI and the

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