Italian Ministers discuss ‘citizen wage’ with World Bank’s EU director Banerji

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Rome, July 10 (IANS/AKI) Italy’s Welfare and Industry Minister Luigi Di Maio and Finance Minister Giovanni Tria on Tuesday met the World Bank’s regional director for the European Union Arup Banerji to discuss the populist government’s plans for a ‘citizen’s wage’, said sources.

Tria has ordered a feasibility study on how to introduce Di Maio’s Five-Star movement’s flagship policy of a universal income for job-seekers and pensioners, according to the sources from the Five-Star Movement.

According to Five Star proposals, any Italian citizen over 18 and not in work, with an income or pension below the poverty line would be eligible for the basic income.

Those living in “absolute poverty” in Italy rose to 5.1 million (8.4 percent of the population) in 2017 despite a fourth consecutive year of modest economic growth, and the number has tripled since 2006 according to Italy’s national statistics agency Istat.

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In Italy’s underdeveloped south, the bedrock of Five-Star’s support, 11.4 percent of people were living in absolute poverty last year, up from 9.8 percent in 2016, the data issued by Istat in late June showed.

Istat defines absolute poverty as an inability to buy goods and services that are necessary for an acceptable standard of living.

Di Maio said on 26 June that the latest Istat figures showed the urgent need for a basic income for the poor. “There is no time to waste. Citizen’s income should start now!” he wrote on Facebook.

–IANS/AKI

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