Berlusconi: Italian tourism sector to get 1.4 bln euros from the banks


ROME – Italian banks will offer up to 1.4 billion euros ($1.96 billion) in low-interest loans to the tourism sector as a result of an agreement with the government, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Sunday.

Berlusconi, whose centre-right administration has offered 12 billion euros in government-backed bonds to help recapitalise the banking system, urged Italian lenders to provide credit to return the Italian economy to growth but to do so prudently.

“Banks will place 1.4 billion euros at the use of tourism entrepreneurs who wish to use it, at attractive interest rates, to improve tourist infrastructure,” Berlusconi told a news conference, adding full details would be announced on Wednesday.

Tourism accounts for around 11 percent of Italy’s 1.4 trillion GDP, according to the government. The euro zone’s third largest economy is in the midst of its worst downturn since World War Two: it shrank by 1 percent last year and is forecast to contract by more than 4 percent in 2009 by the IMF.