MILAN Italy will this week pass a decree to drastically cut the bureaucratic steps required by companies to assess their environmental impact, saving businesses some 1.2 billion euros ($1.55 billion) a year.
According to a government statement, the Ministry for Public Administration will present the decree at a cabinet meeting on Friday. It will enable thousands of small and medium-sized companies to benefit from a simplified assessment of the environmental impact of their business.
The decree is part of government attempts to ease Italy's tortuous and costly permitting process for companies, among the factors that have paralyzed growth in the recession-hit country.
Earlier this year UK gas producer BG Group threatened to shelve plans to build a liquefied natural gas plant in the southern region of Puglia after failing for 11 years to obtain all the necessary permits.
Government measures ratified by parliament need an enacting decree to go into effect indefinitely.
Prime Minister Mario Monti's government is pushing through measures to reduce bureaucracy and help boost productivity in the euro zone's third largest economy.
A new round of measures is expected to be approved by the end of September, a government source said on Friday.
Italy's economy shrank 0.8 percent in the second quarter of 2012, more than initially estimated, and contracted 2.6 percent year-on-year, underscoring the difficulties of trying to cut debt during a deep recession and the euro zone debt crisis. ($1 = 0.7759 euros)
(Reporting by Antonella Ciancio; editing by Ron Askew)