Martedì, 18 Settembre 2018
ROME

Govt in rush on measures to boost jobs, cut red tape

English
© ANSA

(By Denis Greenan).
Rome, June 11 - Italy's new and unprecedented
left-right government vowed Tuesday to move quickly on pledges
to revive the flatlining economy, tackle record unemployment and
cut red tape and taxes that are stifling business.
The pledge came amid further evidence of the depth of the
country's longest recession for 20 years, with a leading
small-business association saying taxes were literally choking
them out of existence.
Ministers said after a government summit that Premier
Enrico Letta's government would pass a decree featuring urgent
"to do" measures before the summit of European Union leaders at
the end of this month.
Relations with Parliament Minister Dario Franceschini said
the decree would include "measures for (bureaucracy)
simplifications, jobs, taxes and small and medium-sized
enterprises (SMEs) to free up energy and resources".
There would be a "bonus" for firms who put young people on
long-term contracts, he said.
Franceschini was speaking after a meeting with the whips of
the parties supporting the government, his and Letta's
centre-left Democratic Party, ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's
centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party and former prime
minister Mario Monti's Civic Choice party.
PdL Lower House Whip and former finance minister Renato
Brunetta said tax breaks and lower contributions for new hires
were aimed at "recovering the 500,000 jobs lost because of the
economic crisis over the last two years".
Brunetta and Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi also stressed
the importance of averting a 1% rise in VAT scheduled to kick in
on July 1, and to fulfill Berlusconi's banner election campaign
pledge of scrapping an unpopular property tax called IMU and
paying back last year's proceeds.
Brunetta rapped Economy Minister Fabrizio Saccomanni for
saying money might be too short to do what the PdL wants on both
VAT and IMU.
Letta has so far only put off June's IMU instalment.
Amid continuing PD-PdL bickering over IMU, some pundits
have suggested the government may cancel it in name only and
reintroduce a property tax called something else sometime in the
future, but only for the better-off and people with multiple
properties.
Labour Minister Enrico Giovannini said the government was
determined to send a "strong signal" on youth unemployment, with
more than one in four 15-to-24-year-old Italians out of work.
A government decree becomes law as soon as it is passed by
the cabinet although it has to be ratified by parliament within
two months or it stops being valid.
The announcement of the decree came as Italy's largest
federation of the self-employed, Confartigianato, blasted heavy
Italian taxes and an accompanying jungle of rules for choking
businesses.
Confartigianato head Giorgio Merletti said: "The tax
authority in Italy takes 68.3% of businesses' gross
margins, while in Switzerland it's barely 30.2%".
"Italian enterprises are running blindfolded the wrong way
into traffic on a one-way street," Merletti added.
"It seems one has to do everything to push beyond limits to
find normal conditions for doing business," he said.
Merletti warned that businesses can no longer take the
fiscal pressure, which in 2013 will reach 44.6% of gross
domestic product (GDP), or 2.4% more than the eurozone average.
Italians pay 38 billion euros in taxes more than their
European partners, or 639 euros more per resident, Merletti
continued.
Between 2005 and 2013, tax increases sapped 132 billion
euros from potential GDP growth, he claimed.
"We can't get out of the tunnel of crisis this way,"
Merletti said.
Merletti added that from the beginning of the last
legislature to today, the Italian parliament has passed 491 new
laws pertaining to taxes, or 100 per year, each accompanied with
a kit of implementation decrees and explanatory circulars.
Merlett said bureaucracy alone costs Italy 31 billion euros
per year, and is particularly difficult for small business
people to cope with.
Those who lead Italy "don't understand that artisanal
products and small businesses are the heart, hands and
intelligence of products made in Italy," Merletti said.
The Letta government also aims to help the economy by
breaking parliamentary logjams and facilitating policy-making.
On Tuesday it said a much-trumpeted bill to set out the
procedures for reforming the Constitution to streamline
government will complete its first reading in parliament by the
end of July.
"There is a commitment to lay out the process for reform,"
Franceschini said after the government summit.
Letta's government has set an 18-month deadline for the
reforms, which will be framed by a panel of 40 parliamentarians
helped by 35 Constitutional experts.
Reforms will include a new electoral law, cutting the
number of MPs and stripping the Senate of its equal status to
the House.
Law-making is slower in Italy than other countries because
the Senate has the same powers as the House.
Another mooted reform is to change the way the Italian
president is elected.
Currently he is voted in by parliament.
There is a groundswell on the right for changing this to
let the Italian people choose him, as in France and the United
States, but this is opposed by many on the left.
Any changes to the Constitution require a two-thirds
majority in both chambers.
If they do not get this, they are subject to a popular
referendum, which can abrogate the reform.

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