Reuters International

A general view after earthquake that levelled the town in Pescara del Tronto, central Italy, September 1, 2016. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

(reuters_tickers)

ROME (Reuters) - Italy will exempt people and businesses in central regions hit last week by a devastating earthquake from tax payments until the end of the year, the Treasury said on Thursday.

At least 293 people died when the quake struck in the hilly heart of the country on Aug. 24 destroying towns, villages and hamlets.

Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan signed a decree suspending tax payments in 17 municipalities, the Treasury said in a statement.

Italy, where earthquakes are frequent, was criticised by the European Commission last year for offering tax reductions to companies in areas affected by natural disasters for almost two decades without asking for proof of the damage.

(Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

reuters_tickers

 Reuters International