| 23 May 2024, Thursday |

Italy’s Meloni may water down cash payments plan after EU talks

Following discussions with the European Commission over the matter, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni stated on Sunday that she may scale back plans to make it simpler to settle small payments with cash rather than cards.

In a move viewed as going against the spirit of pledges signed with the EU, Meloni’s right-wing administration has introduced a 2023 budget that eliminates fines for businesses who refuse cards for payments under 60 euros ($63.23).

Italy is the biggest recipient of the EU’s post-pandemic recovery fund, standing to receive around 200 billion euros through 2026. But in return, it has to comply with a series of reform “targets and milestones.”

One of them, hammered out under the former administration of Mario Draghi, was the introduction of sanctions for retailers who refuse card payments, as part of measures to fight tax evasion.

Meloni insisted that making it easier to pay cash was not a backhanded way of helping tax dodging – an endemic problem in Italy, where more than 100 billion euros are evaded each year, according to Treasury data.

She said the same about another controversial proposal from the draft budget, which has yet to be approved by parliament: raising the cap on cash payments to 5,000 euros, from a limit of 1,000 euros that was due to kick in on Jan. 1.

  • Reuters