Italian Cabinet passes first economic measures, formally suspending tax on first homes

ROME – Italy’s new cross-party government has adopted its first measures to help the economy. They include suspending a tax on primary residences and allocating funds to extend a short-term layoff scheme.

The Cabinet also eliminated stipends for the premier and the Cabinet members beyond their base salary as lawmakers.

The government allocated 1 billion euros ($1.28 billion) for the short-term layoff fund, which was about to go bust. The fund helps companies pay the salaries of workers they have laid off due to the crisis.

The suspension of the property tax, pending its review, was sought by former Premier Silvio Berlusconi, who made abolishing the unpopular tax an election pledge.

The tax raises 4 billion euros annually. The European Union has warned any shortfall would have to be made up for.