The Italian government approved a so-called "Robin Hood" tax on oil companies to fund aid for low-income households hit hard by increased food and energy prices.
Premier Silvio Berlusconi's government has included the measure in a three-year budget plan approved Wednesday in a Cabinet meeting.
Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti told reporters that the money gained from the tax will be used in part to help senior citizens buy food and pay less for electricity. The association of Italy's oil companies denounced the measure as "punitive."
The budget plan must be approved by both houses of Parliament. It features cuts to reduce Italy's public spending as well as development measures, including a plan to restart the country's nuclear power program.