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Italy PM adopts new measures to help coronavirus-hit economy

Italian PM Conte addresses Senate on coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Rome

ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Saturday he had approved a new package of measures to help those worst hit by the coronavirus emergency, including supplying shopping vouchers and food packages.

Conte said in a news conference that 4.3 billion euros ($4.79 billion) would be made immediately available to mayors to deal with theirs citizens' needs and another 400 million would be provided in a special fund for "people who don't have the money to do their shopping."

Italy, the country that has suffered most deaths from the coronavirus epidemic, already approved a 25 billion euro stimulus package earlier this month and has promised another one of at least the same size in April.

Economy Minister Roberto Gualtieri, speaking at the same news conference, criticized the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, for appearing to dismiss the need for issuance of common debt by European Union countries.

"The commission president's words were a mistake and I regret that she made them," he said, adding that Europe would need "a great Marshall Plan" to relaunch its economy after the coronavirus emergency is over.


(Reporting by Angelo Amante, writing by Gavin Jones)