The entire cost of repairing buildings damaged by a massive earthquake in central Italy will be borne by the state, the Italian government decided Tuesday, approving a relief package for victims of the calamity.
Following previous earthquakes in Italy, full damage compensation was offered only for homes where people lived full-time, with partial refunds going for the reconstruction of holiday, or non-resident homes.
A decree introducing the more generous conditions was approved in a cabinet meeting in Rome.
Cabinet undersecretary Claudio De Vincenti said in a press conference that it earmarked 300 million euros (330 million dollars) in immediate aid, whereas the reconstruction effort was expected to cost 4.5 billion euros in total.
Next year's budget law, due to be presented on Saturday, will provide the rest of the funding, De Vincenti added.
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi had previously said his government intended to cover earthquake reconstruction bills, at least in part, by derogating from European Union rules that limit deficit spending.
Tuesday's decree also offered easy term loans for entrepreneurs who want to restart their businesses, benefits for employees of firms forced to close by the earthquake, and deferred tax payments for affected households and businesses.
"The earthquake decree [was] approved this morning. We had promised: We will not leave you on your own. And that is what we will do. All together," Prime Minister Matteo Renzi wrote on Twitter, hours before visiting damaged zones.
On August 24, a 6-magnitude quake killed 298 people and left thousands homeless in the towns and villages of Amatrice, Accumoli and Arquata del Tronto, located in a remote mountain area about 150 kilometres north-east of Rome.
"It's a good day. We have concrete hopes that Amatrice may live again," said mayor Sergio Pirozzi, welcoming the extension of government funding to non-residents. Most of his town is made up of holiday homes.
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