Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said on Sunday she may soften her plans to make it easier to pay small amounts in cash instead of by card, following talks with the European Commission on the matter.
The Meloni government has presented a budget for 2023 that eliminates fines for businesses that refuse to receive card payments for amounts less than 60 euros (63.23 dollars), in a measure that is considered contrary to the spirit of the commitments acquired with the European Union.
“Up to 60 euros, we would like not to force businesses to accept electronic payments. But let’s say that the threshold of 60 euros is indicative, for me it could be even lower,” Meloni said in a video posted on Facebook.
“Also, obviously there are discussions on this with the European Commission, because the issue of electronic payments is one of the issues (of the EU recovery plan), so we have to see, we will see how the discussions end,” he added.
Italy is the biggest beneficiary of the EU’s post-pandemic recovery fund and will receive some 200 billion euros until 2026. But in return it has to meet a series of reform “targets and milestones”.
One of them, forged under the previous government of Mario Draghi, was the introduction of sanctions for businesses that reject card payments, as part of the measures to combat tax evasion.
Meloni insisted that facilitating cash payments was not a sneaky way to help tax evasion, an endemic problem in Italy, where more than 100 billion euros a year is evaded, according to Treasury data.
He said the same about another controversial proposal in the draft budget, which has yet to be approved by Parliament: raising the limit on cash payments to 5,000 euros, from a limit of 1,000 euros that was due to take effect on January 1.
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