Italy unveils new package to reduce impact of surging energy prices

ROME:   As the Italian government worked to lessen the negative economic effects of rising fuel prices, the Cabinet of Ministers of Italy passed legislation offering billions of euros in tax savings and finance for natural gas.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi made the announcement late on Thursday as he was leaving Spain following the NATO conference. Draghi attended the first two summit days in Madrid, but Italian Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini took his place on the last day.

The Prime Minister did not provide an exact dollar amount for the aid package in his remarks, but he did state that it will finance 4 billion euros (USD 4.2 billion) in loans to energy market operator GSE (Manager of Energy Services)  to help fill up gas storage before demand rises next winter.

He said, gas storage is presently between 50 and 60 percent full, and his government is "confident we'll reach our target" of 90 percent capacity by November.

The overall package, including the finance for GSE, was reportedly worth up to 8 billion euros, according to Italian media. This included money to support long-term contracts for gas imports and a decrease in taxes on energy bills.

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