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Italian lawmakers approve 20-billion-euro debt hike for bank rescue

By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Rome (dpa) - Italy‘s lower house of parliament on Thursday approved a government bid to increase public debt by up to 20 billion euros (about 21.3 billion dollars) to fund a rescue package for Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS) and other ailing banks.

"A step forward to guarantee more economic security to families and businesses," Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni wrote on Twitter.

The move comes after the European Union on December 29 approved the Italian government‘s move to rescue MPS, the country‘s third-largest lender and the world‘s oldest bank.

The banking sector has been a drag on Italy‘s economy for the last several years. Lenders‘ main problem is a collection of bad loans stemming from careless lending decisions and a long recession which forced many businesses and households into insolvency.

Italian GDP contracted by seven percentage points and industrial production fell by 25 per cent in 2007-2012, according to the Bank of Italy. This economic slump coincided with the rise in deteriorated credit, which almost tripled to 12.3 per cent of all bank loans by mid-2015 from 4.5 per cent at the end of 2007, according to the Italian central bank.

Italy‘s national debt stood at just over 2.2 trillion euros at the end of the first quarter of 2016 - 135 per cent of GDP and the second highest in the European Union after Greece, according to the EU statistical office Eurostat.


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