ITALY – The Italian government has exempted pension funds and sovereign wealth funds from having to pay the controversial financial transaction tax (FTT), which will come into force on 16 October.

In an announcement earlier this week, economy minister Fabrizio Saccomanni said sovereign wealth funds would not be required to pay any tax on investments made in sovereign debt, while pension funds will be exempt from any tax on the entities or organisations in which they traditionally invest.

However, Saccomanni stressed that pension funds would need to meet a number of requirements set out in the decree in order to qualify for the exemption.

He also shed light on the status of so-called 'ethical funds', adding that the acquisition of shares or any operation deriving from ethical funds, or the management of portfolios known as ethical or 'socially responsible', would not be exempt from the tax.

The Italian FTT comes in line with the European Commission's contentious proposal to introduce a pan-European 'Tobin tax'.

The idea of introducing a Europe-wide tax was originally put forward by France and Germany, which then received support from Belgium, Austria, Slovenia, Portugal and Greece.

In October 2012, Italy, Spain, Estonia and Slovakia pledged support, bringing the number of member states backing the tax to 11, higher than the minimum of nine countries required under Commission rules to trigger 'enhanced cooperation'.

In January this year, EU finance ministers gave the 11 member states the green light to implement the FTT, just one month after the European Parliament threw its support behind the idea.