© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A woman shops at Campo de’ Fiori market in Rome, Italy, June 15, 2022. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane/File Photo
By Giuseppe Fonte
ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s government is trying to broker a deal with supermarkets and producers to control prices of essential consumer goods in a measure that would be implemented in the final three months of the year, a government document showed on Friday.
Industry Minister Adolfo Urso is negotiating an accord with market players to “offer a range of everyday food and non-food products at capped prices” from October to December, a draft Memorandum of Understanding seen by Reuters said.
Under the government-backed scheme, supermarket chains should define a basket of food and non-food essential staples to which lowered prices apply, excluding alcohol.
Basic necessities would include childcare and personal care products, the document said. Distributors of such products should inform the government by Sept. 15 about their intention to join the initiative, it said.
The talks come in the wake of public anger at persistently high inflation rate that is posing a major headache for nationalist Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.
Italian annual inflation slowed to 6.7% in June from 8% in May, EU-harmonised consumer prices (HICP) data showed. Annual growth in prices of food, household and personal care slowed in June to 10.5% from 11.2%, but remained over 50% higher than the overall index.
Rome is not alone in its concern, with governments in countries ranging from France to Britain also considering or adopting measures to rein in inflation.
Under the Italian plan, retail stores taking part in the campaign would be marked with government window stickers in the green, white and red of the Italian flag with “anti-inflation quarter” written on it, a reference to the last three months of the year.
Meloni’s office plans to back the initiative with state-funded advertising as part of a national campaign, the document said.
Early this month Rome announced a plan to distribute debit cards granting 1.3 million poor families a one-off subsidy of 382.50 euros ($421.25) for grocery expenses, which triggered criticism because it limits the type of households that can benefit and the types of food that can be bought.
The government in May curtailed a much broader poverty relief scheme known as the “citizens’ income,” in place since 2019, which Meloni argued allowed people to be lazy and not seek work.
($1 = 0.9080 euros)