martedì 10 marzo 2009

Doubts on federalism in Italy/2

I here publish the second half of the interesting contribution of Umberto Lacchetti.

Doubts and problems on federalism in Italy

There are many other questions on federalism in Italy still waiting for satisfying answers. First of all how to guarantee adequate solidarity levels: fundamental public services. such as education and health, must be provided at good levels to all. This is something more than determining forms of compensation or finance flows from richer to poorer regions. Also the definition of standard costs is surely an incentive to promote efficiency at local level but it is not enough to guarantee high quality public services.

Some public services cannot be operatively structured only at regional level: i.e. a lot of people everyday are moving in Italy from a region to another to reach specialized hospitals looking for better health care. There is in Italy a temporary migration flow from the South to the North and the services costs are paid by the poorer regions. So I wonder: after a federalist reform, will poorer regions still be able to bear these extra-territorial health cares' costs?

There is also the problem of scale economies in the public service's provision: if any agency is pushed to produce public services only at local level, surely major costs will arise. For example, interrupting this migration flow, even the hospitals in northern Italy will suffer from the consequent resources' reduction. To sustain the functioning costs, local taxes will surely soar to maintain the same service's quality level. The duplication of regional and local institutions will increase the bureaucracy's costs as well

The paradox is that, notwithstanding these and other open questions, the federalist proposal face no opposition. Many local administrators from opposition parties consider this proposal, above all according to a fiscal point of view, as an effective tool to promote local authonomy. They are convinced that local issues can be better managed only at local level: this is the only problem without considering their real operative capabilities in providing effective and efficient replies to local economic, social and environmental issues.

Umberto Lacchetti – published on Orizzonti Nuovi 31.08.2008

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