Editorial 5 February 2020
There is talk of reformulating VAT rates by raising them for luxury goods. If this were to happen, we would find ourselves in the same gloomy situation created by the Monti government
by Francesco Michienzi
Why was the Conte II Cabinet formed? According to its supporters, so as not to trigger the safeguarding clauses and not be forced to automatically impose an increase in VAT rates on services and consumer goods.
This result was achieved after a particularly hectic procedure for the approval of the Budget Law by the Italian government. It appears clear that political will is unable to play its part if the administrative bureaucratic machine prevents it from doing so. At the opening of the Genoa Boat Show, the minister Paola De Micheli was working to resolve the issue of state fees for tourist marinas risking bankruptcy. She said that the issue would be resolved by the end of October. This promise was made purely to win an applause from her audience.
All that has been achieved is a deferment, included in the Milleproroghe Decree, which simply postpones the issue by a few months. We’re faced with full-blown political inadequacy, a powerlessness that leaves us at the mercy of chance. There is no capacity for developing an industrial policy in Italy. We are caught in a spider’s web of words spoken for the sole purpose of ensuring the survival of the politicians themselves.
Emanuele Maria Valdenassi, a nautical entrepreneur, has said that our sector is made up of numerous small businesses, with a few employees each, meaning that politicians don’t see the nautical sector as one to be safeguarded, supported in its growth and protected against an increasingly complex market.
If a few hundred thousand people went to Rome to demonstrate about the need to defend the jobs of those in the boat industry, perhaps there would be a tiny bit of interest in our world. However, such a drastic measure might not even make any difference given the indifference towards real life of those who govern us.
Their priorities are the statute of limitations in criminal trials, immigration, revoking motorway concessions and reporting ministers’ expenses. A few economics experts, from the school of Senator Mario Monti remembered so fondly by the entire nautical sector as a great forward-thinking expert, have started to say that VAT rates must be reformulated, heavily penalising luxury goods.
This debate is only in the early stages, but they will get to the heart of the matter during the next Public Budget session. All demagogues describe boats as quintessential luxury goods. We are trying to raise awareness about the certain damage a provision such as this could cause to a sector that has only recently recovered thanks to the huge sacrifices made by its business people. Marinas and taxation are two sides of the same coin.
The two aspects are so closely related that it is our duty to increase the focus on these issues. Everyone operating in the sector, at every level, needs to join forces and field a series of initiatives that can boost the importance of a strategic sector such as the nautical industry in the public opinion. We are the world leaders, but we need support from our government in order to retain this position.
(Watch out for VAT – Barchemagazine.com – February 2020)