Giovanni Tria to Pietro Senaldi: "Italy was not on the precipice. And the Mes can be changed"


"It is not true that the previous government left a disastrous economic situation. We didn't bump into each other, as many predicted, and paradoxically, after the accounts, we were one of the most austere executives in the history of the Republic, with a perfectly controlled public expenditure. We made the first structural balance sheet adjustment after many years and we were able to bring down the spread, which was at current levels in July. We had regained market confidence and foreign underwriters had returned. I believe this is widely recognized also at international level ».

Former Minister of Economics Giovanni Tria he is mild and cordial by nature, but as a good professor he is keen on precision and does not like being put on his feet. The narrative of the Giallorossi government can dupe some fan electors, but not him, who was there and of numbers if he will.

To justify the alliance with the grillini and the fact of having taken power without sending the Italians back to the polls, the Democratic Party has designed tragic scenarios and still today agitates ghosts. The Dems boast of having averted the increase of the VAT and of having reduced the taxes, they speak of peace made with Europe and of markets under control. All thanks to them, it is understood. But Professor Tria is not there. He found himself in government even though he had a different political sensibility both from the Northern League and from the grill one, and tried to keep the hut upright. "I", he explains, "I would have done many things differently. But in government it is the policy that commands the technicians, whose main task is not to derail the train ".

Professor, his successor, Minister Gualtieri, said he found a plan to increase taxes and linear cuts in public spending: is this true?
"It doesn't seem to me that he accused me of anything, perhaps he was referring to the famous safeguard clause relating to the increase in VAT, which also came from afar. As regards spending cuts, in Italy we have 800 billion of public budgets. I believe it is possible to reduce the trend expenditure by 8-9 billion without affecting services and performances. I had a plan to contain targeted spending increases, but still not subjected to the collective scrutiny of the government, with analysis of individual items, which would have eliminated waste, not services or solidarity where possible ".

But would he raise taxes?
"I am convinced that taxes can be deviated and lowered, provided that spending is kept under control. Our government had progressively taken both roads. My hope was to continue on that road. I was then working on a real tax reform, which abolished the current brackets and fixed a specific rate for each income level in order to ensure a real and capillary progression of the levy ».

The PD and Italia Viva claim that you wanted to increase VAT: deny this too?
"I had a mandate from Parliament not to raise VAT. The forecast, after the adjustment in July, of a trend deficit for 2020 at 1.5-1.6% gave room for a maneuver aimed at canceling the rule that would have triggered the increase in value added tax " .

But is it because of the increase in VAT, or I remember correctly?
«Personally, my position is known: better to increase taxes on consumption than on income, especially in a country with high tax evasion like ours. So this is a re-composition of tax revenue. To this end I would have gladly removed the reduced VAT rates for certain luxury consumption, or at least not for the poorest population, to reduce income tax. But it was my position that I do not know if it would have been accepted by the government of which I was a member. Let's say I was working on it ».

Do you like the maneuver?
"I don't want to judge, especially because it doesn't seem to be defined yet and the devil is often in the details. But solidarizzo with the minister Gualtieri, it seems to me that he too leaves little margin ".

At least tell me what you think of microtaxes, like those on company cars or on drinks?
«They are, or at least are perceived, as ideological taxes. The structural accounts of Italy will certainly not change any decision at the end is taken ".

However, your citizenship income has not just increased public spending
«Less than expected. Moreover it costs less than the 80 euros of Renzi and is socially more understandable. It was a political measure on an existing problem, even if it could be drawn in another way. In any case, I would have focused more on reducing taxes to help the recovery ".

Why has citizenship income failed?
"I don't know if he failed, he has to wait for a more documented evaluation. It has some critical aspects. For example, the amount is high, especially when compared with salaries that are taken in the South. In certain areas, in fact, it risks being a disincentive to look for work and can create complications in the labor market. However, in any case, it is doubtful that it can give results in the objective of training the beneficiaries and helping them find employment. This, however, could be understood even before leaving, because the real problem of midday is that there is no work ".

We haven't grown for twenty years: why?
"For two reasons, very closely linked: the lack of investments, both Italian and foreign, and the legal risk on companies caused by the slowness and above all by the unpredictability of justice, administrative, civil and criminal. In short, the problems are justice and the paralysis of our public administration, factors that discourage anyone from engaging capital in the country and pushing money abroad ".

What faults does politics have?
«It does not offer the economy a sufficiently stable and favorable framework for development. Justice reform is needed, as is procurement law. If the investments are firm it is because the laws are not clear and neither are the procedures, so nobody takes responsibility for making decisions ".

This government says it wants to get Italy back on track with public works: but is there money?
"Money is the last of the problems. Every year we ask Europe for flexibility for investments and we get it but then nothing happens. The yellow-green government also obtained flexibility, for about four billion for hydrogeological instability. Then we had other resources, and I would have put in even more, but then we spent a little more than zero. That is the question".

And why?
"Regulations and regulations are too complex and make everything difficult. In addition, in the Public Administration, with the blocking of hiring and the process of outsourcing, in recent years there has been a collapse of technical skills. Missing quality projects and administrators do not give the green light to the few projects that are there because they feel attacked by the judiciary. No one guarantees that a project is not a scam and therefore those who must decide are literally terrified of being indicted for abuse of office or worse crimes, without technical bodies that guarantee the technical and financial validity of the projects ".

However, it went well, escaped the umpteenth Alitalia crisis and the Ilva torment. Development Minister Patuanelli spoke of a new IRI; but does our economy really need the return of public caravans to recover?
"In the situation in which we are, the role of the state must be strengthened. I believe it is a general problem, not only Italian, which derives from the current phase of globalization. It is nonsense, however, to place an alternative between a new IRI and a market solution, because today even public companies must remain on the market, otherwise they will only burn wealth. It is no longer the times when the public company can act as a social buffer. The State must manage with the same logics as private individuals: if a private individual does not find it convenient to enter a company, not even the State must enter it. The Alitalia case is enlightening ».

Why can't anyone get it off the ground?
"There is a lack of an industrial plan and management at the height".

But dozens of managers have passed, won't they all be incompetent?
«The problem is not the doctor but the patient. Alitalia cannot be held up only to maintain employment levels, with a great waste of capital that ballast any recovery plan. I believe it is important that Italy retains a national airline but on the one hand the state should commit adequate resources to a sustainable industrial plan and if necessary offer social safety nets for excess personnel rather than waste resources to make it liven up at a loss ".

And of the Ilva case what do you think: did the Indians cheat us, as the government claims?
"A mistake was made when the criminal shield that had been guaranteed to start the environmental rehabilitation work was questioned."

M5S claims that Arcelor-Mittal uses the failed shield as an excuse to leave
"But the good excuse to leave was given to us. If then the sector is in crisis and there are redundancies, these must be faced in a rational way. It is not possible to impose off-market employment levels on a company. We are paying the Ilva case as a country not only in economic terms but also in terms of international reputation. Once again we are proving to be an inhospitable and unreliable land for foreign investors ».

Alitalia, Ilva, justice, the new government moves from one crisis to another. Now it's up to the saving state signed by you and Conte in Europe: can it be the hole that makes it fall?
"I and Conte didn't invent the state-safe. We found it when the negotiation for its revision was already in progress. One thing is the doubts about the mechanism itself, another discussion about its possible deterioration. I believe we have eliminated the damage caused by many of the revision proposals that we have canceled. If we had accepted them it would have been a suicide for Italy, and consequently also for Europe ".

The case is now political: has Conte warned his deputy prime minister?
"He'll say that, they were his deputies, not mine. In any case, it was discussed in the government. "

But can the treaty be amended?
"Theoretically yes, because it is not formally approved, but to change it you need to find alliances and a justification; for example, it could be subordinated to the agreement on other reforms, such as the banking union or the eurozone budget. But on the banking union the problems are even greater ».

by Pietro Senaldi

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