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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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine says he will sign law that temporarily blocks local plastic bag bans

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday he plans to sign a bill into law that would temporarily ban local governments, including Cuyahoga County, from setting local bans on plastic bags and other single-use containers.

DeWine in December said he opposes the proposal to ban local bag bans. But he said Tuesday because the bill expires after 12 months, and because of the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the current COVID-19 pandemic, he’s been convinced to support it.

“My general principle is, unless there’s a compelling reason why we need uniformity throughout Ohio that we should stay away from telling local units of government what to do,” he said. “They’re elected by the local citizens, they’re accountable to the local citizens and if the local citizens don’t like them, they can get rid of them.

“So unless there’s a compelling reason to do it, I would normally veto this bill. But

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