(Bloomberg) — Italy has a hidden economy encompassing anything from undeclared transactions to drugs and prostitution that is about the size of Portugal’s, according to the newest estimate of officials.
The country’s statistics agency, Istat, said on Wednesday that its assessment of the amount of underground and illegal activity that took place there in 2018, the latest year available, was about 211 billion euros ($248 billion).
The total is down about 1.3% from the previous year, making the undeclared portion of Italy’s gross domestic product about 11.9%. The peak was 13% in 2014.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s government is working on a new measure to try to regularize more of the country’s economy by discouraging the use of cash. The plan would refund 10% of payment card transactions, handing back a maximum of 300 euros ($354) per person, while allowing citizens to participate in an associated lottery with a 300 million-euro prize pot.
More than 3.6 million people evade tax, concentrated most in areas such as transport and catering, according to officials.
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