AMATRICE — Seven months after a powerful earthquake in central Italy reduced Amatrice to rubble and killed almost 300 people, mayor Sergio Pirozzi has declared the town a free trade area, Italian financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore reports.
Amatrice's town council approved a motion to establish an Amatrice County Free Trade Zone (ZFCA), under which the local government would contribute to a fund that will cover all tax payments and fiscal contributions of Amatrice residents, media reports say.
Mayor Sergio Pirozzi in his makeshit office on Feb. 2017 — Photo: Lena Klimkeit/DPA/ZUMA
"The ZFCA is the only thing I can do to give people some hope," Pirozzi told Rome-based newspaper La Repubblica. "85% of Amatrice is uninhabitable. We can't live on disaster tourism, we need a long-term vision for our economy."
After the earthquake in August last year, further shocks in October and then January, four regions of central Italy were ravaged and tens of thousands of people were displaced.
The Italian government has also passed legislation to suspend all taxes until 2020 in the towns affected by the string of earthquakes in an effort to help local businesses return.
A measure to establish a special economic zone in the areas devastated by the quake is supported by only 32 MPs in the lower house but Il Sole 24 Ore reports that Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni may include the measure in the government's next reconstruction plan.
While the Italian government works out such a proposal, mayor Pirozzi is forging ahead with his own free trade zone. The ZFCA is slated to come into effect within weeks.
Pirozzi wrote in a council declaration that, "It will help rebuild the social and economic fabric of our town."