Hope and fear. The hope that the Draghi government, thanks to the resources of the Recovery fund, will try to reduce the North-South divide. The fear that beyond the absence, among the new ministers, of southerners, with the exception of Mara Carfagna from Salerno, with the government of the former head of the ECB a political-cultural axis has shifted towards a single piece of the country represented, a face above all, from the Northern League’s Giancarlo Giorgetti to the Ministry of Economic Development. From mayors, teachers, economists, the southern ruling class, this double sentiment emerges in the reflections on the new executive: hope and fear.
The last two governments, the first Count and the second Count, thanks also to the strong thrust of the 5 Star Movement which in the South had gathered votes, have partly rebalanced a distribution of public resources which in recent decades had caused the gap between the two areas of the country. Starting with citizenship income: out of 3.5 million beneficiaries, 2.2 million reside in the South and in the Islands and this means distributing over 4 billion euros each year to the most disadvantaged segments of the population in the southern territory. The outgoing Minister of the South, dem Giuseppe Provenzano, delivered to his successor, Mara Carfagna, a sixty-page booklet on resource planning for the South: 140 billion between now and 2030 for the Southern Plan, 40 billion euros to be allocated to the tax relief for companies in poor regions, the doubling of investments for the South in the state budget, which went from 10 billion in 2008 to 21 billion last year, enforcing the 34 percent restriction on state spending in the South based on the resident population.
What will the Draghi government do now? Will it question some interventions such as citizenship income? Will it put fiscal federalism back at the center of the agenda as set by Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia Romagna and so dear to the Lega and a piece of the Democratic Party?
According to the director of the Svimez study center, Luca Bianchi, «the risk feared in many parts of a shift in the center of gravity of the Draghi government towards the North will have to be tested“:” The geographical origin of the ministers cannot be a useful criterion for establishing the degree of northernism or southernism of government action. Verification will depend on political choices. And there are two main tests: the implementation of the Recovery fund and the eventual implementation of differentiated autonomy. Like Svimez, we had already criticized the National Recovery and Resilience Plan prepared by the Conte government. The criterion of 34 per cent of the Recovery resources to be allocated to the South on the basis of population cannot be applied in an accounting manner, because the most significant delays in terms of supply of essential public services are concentrated in the South. And we cannot fail to raise the issue of a reform of bureaucracy and governance of spending in the South ”.
Bianchi insists on the issue of gaps: per capita public expenditure for investments in health was equal to 25 euros in the South, against 75 euros in the North-East. In the South there is no nursery school and full-time in schools is guaranteed for less than a third compared to regions such as Piedmont or Lombardy: “Concentrating resources where the gaps and therefore the needs are wider is not an act of generosity towards the South but it is the only way to respond to the goal of more sustainable growth. Europe has allocated the highest share of resources to our country, around 200 billion, in consideration of these large gaps ».
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A border mayor, engaged in the battle for the green conversion of the largest steel pole serving the industries of the North, is more confident. Says Rinaldo Melucci, mayor of Taranto: «I believe that the Ilva affair is a paradigm for the country system, not only because it also concerns the manufacturing of the North, but also because here the whole national political class has made enormous mistakes. The road is marked and goes towards a true ecological transition on Taranto. If Taranto can do it, the South can do it too, and the North will also have benefits. The Conte government had opened a good path with development contracts, institutional tables and simplification. And I am convinced that the Minister of Economic Development can also be from the League. If he does not support the ecological transition of a pole like ours, he is not going anywhere, neither he nor the North ». But there is a veil of fear: «In the South we have accumulated so many delays on the business and infrastructure front that we have to hurry, other than differentiated federalism. But how can we think of being together in the pandemic and then at the first breath of novelty put aside every principle of solidarity between the regions? ”.
“If Draghi does not mend the now increasingly evident rift between areas of the same country, and not only on the South-North axis but also the center-periphery, city-internal areas, I think he will fail in the eyes of Europe. And in this sense the South will be the main test for him ”, predicts the mayor of Palermo Leoluca Orlando. Shares the president of Anci and mayor of Bari, Antonio Decaro: «Provenzano was a good minister, but I am convinced that Mara Carfagna will also do well. I do not think that the program to restart the South depends on the territorial origin of the ministers and everyone knows by now that if the South does not start again the rest of the country will not start again ».
Source: L'Espresso – News, inchieste e approfondimenti Espresso by espresso.repubblica.it.
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