The Italian government has approved hotly contested emergency measures to open competition in a wide-range of sectors aimed at boosting growth and making room for young people in the workforce.
The measures approved Friday are the second prong in Premier Mario Monti's efforts to protect Italy from sovereign debt crisis, following a euro30 billion ($39 billion) austerity package past in December.
The measures will allow more taxi licenses, permit pharmacists to discount some medicines, and allow gas stations operators to choose whom they buy fuel from.
Monti told a news conference that the greater competition will benefit Italy's highly rigid society.
Taxi drivers have been staging wild cat strikes for days against the proposed reforms.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
MILAN (AP) _ The Italian government has approved the release of euro5.5 billion ($7.1 billion) from state coffers to fund strategic infrastructure projects.
A government statement said the funds approved Friday would pay for railway lines in the poorer south, public housing and school projects and environmental safety measures.
The money is on top of euro4.8 billion approved in December for highway projects and high-speed railways.
Premier Mario Monti has combined the economic development and infrastructure ministries to ensure strong coordination of projects that can promote economic growth.
The Cabinet meeting in Rome is expected to approve a liberalization program later Friday.