* Package includes lower energy costs for SMEs, tax credits
* Renzi under pressure to act after Italy fell into
* Business leaders say measures don't go far enough
ROME, Aug 8 Italy's parliament gave final
approval late on Thursday to a package of support measures for
the ailing economy, including a cut in energy costs for small
companies and measures to spur lending to businesses.
The package, dubbed the "competitiveness decree" when it was
presented by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's government in June,
got a lukewarm reception from business leaders who said it
lacked a clear strategy and failed to address the real needs of
Renzi is under growing pressure to take more decisive steps
to overhaul the euro zone's third-biggest economy after data
this week showed it fell back into recession in the second
The package underwent numerous changes during a difficult
passage through parliament and finally passed by 155 votes to 27
in a confidence vote in the senate as the government tries to
rush through legislation before the summer recess.
Among the more significant measures in the decree are a
reduction in energy costs for small and medium-sized companies,
a tax credit for firms that make new investments in machinery
and new rules allowing insurers and credit funds to lend
directly to business.
Renzi's main economic stimulus approved so far has been an
income tax cut of up to 80 euros per month for low earners,
effective from May, while plans for a broad reform of rigid
labour market rules have been put back to 2015 at the earliest.
Prominent industrialist Alberto Bombassei, chairman of
brake-maker Brembo, said the competitiveness decree
contained too many minor measures and was of no help to business
which would benefit far more from a reduction in corporate tax
"It seems a clear sign that the government has lost its
direction at the moment," he said in an interview in La Stampa
daily on Friday.
(Reporting by Gavin Jones; Editing by Susan Fenton)