lunedì 9 marzo 2009

Doubts on Federalism in Italy/1

I have received this interesting contribution from Umberto Lacchetti. Following I publish here the first half.

Doubts and problems of the proposal of federalism in Italy

The elimination of the local real estate tax, to confirm those promises made during the election campaign by the present Government, surely has satisfied many italians (even if for many of them the money saving has been less than expected) but it has eliminated an important source for local financing. If the aim was to make local administrations more independent from central authorities, the effect has been counterproductive. All this has created a severe contraddiction for the italian government which probably will hatch out an alternative plan in spite of those italians convinced not to pay this tax anymore.

This case evidence however the lack of clarity in italian politics. If the government is planning a federalist reform, it should define this reform clearly identifying responsibilities, roles, functions, and the financial resources necessary to implement this reform. At present there are only doubts.

The ministry for the normative simplification has stated that federalism will allow costs reductions in bureaucracy expenses. But how? Regions and other local entities, he explained, will have at their disposal their own taxes correlated to the services provided; in this way local administrators will accounting for the expenses they have made and local communities will be able to evaluate their actions. Moreover, the ministry intends to involve mayors in the fight against tax evasion because they know better local realities.

These are good intentions but they are based on a too optimistic perspective. The control local communities may exert could be rather equivocal: this control can be exerted only when the entire political system is transpartent and when people are adequtely informed. The frequent examples of political corruption in Italy demonstrate the contrary.

Before any federalist reform higher levels of legality and information are necessary if we want that local communities can evaluate and control how the things are going. Similar doubts arise about the contribution of mayors in the fight against tax evasion. I think it is better to leave this job to specific bodies and agencies also because mayors are already engaged in too many tasks.

Umberto Lacchetti – published on "Orizzonti Nuovi" 31.08.2008

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