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Rome – A flagship Italian government programme granting
18-year-olds 500 euros (566 dollars) to spend on cultural activities
will launch in mid-September, 10 months after it was announced, an
official said Tuesday.

“Everything is almost ready,” a government official told dpa,
confirming a report from the Corriere della Sera newspaper indicating
that the unprecedented scheme would be operational as of September
15. “That’s the date, give or take a day or two” he said.

Bureaucratic and technological problems – such as the need to create
an online platform and negotiate deals with cinema and theatre
owners’ associations – delayed the programme, which comes ahead of a
key electoral test for Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

The so-called 18app programme will allow anyone whose 18th birthday
falls in 2016 to register online for a 500-euro bonus, which can be
spent on museums, theatre, cinema, books and other activities vetted
by the ministry for culture.

Grants will also be available to non-Italians if they have legal
residency papers, officials said. Up to 575,000 people can benefit
from the 290-million-euro initiative, which runs through the end of
2017.

– DPA