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ECB raps Italy over cashback plan, says it should have been consulted

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: A euro logo sculpture stands in front the headquarters of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt

MILAN (Reuters) - The European Central Bank has complained to Italian Economy Minister Roberto Gualtieri that measures to spur electronic payments in the country undermined the goal of a neutral approach to means of payment.

In a letter dated Dec. 14 published on the European Union legal website, the ECB said the programme of incentives launched by Rome to reduce reliance on cash appeared to be "disproportionate".

The letter was signed by Yves Mersch, who on the same day ended his mandate on the ECB's executive board.

"The ECB would appreciate that the Italian authorities give due consideration to the above observations by honouring the obligation to consult the ECB in the future where applicable," the letter said.

Reacting to the letter, the Treasury said it would press on with the plan adding the ECB opinion was not binding.

"The formal remarks made by Mersch do not appear to be justified," the Treasury said.

Italy introduced the scheme earlier this month, offering shoppers refunds on purchases made by cards as part on an on-going campaign to discourage tax evasion.

(This story has been refiled to remove extraneous word in paragraph 3).

(Reporting by Valentina Za, Editing by Crispian Balmer and Chizu Nomiyama)