How much money does the PNRR allocate to the South? It is one of the catchphrases of this very hot summer. Officially they should be 40% of the total (82 billion), but there are those who argue that they will not even reach 10%.
Yet let’s talk about numbers, they should be sure. But, apparently, that’s not quite the case. Gianfranco Viesti, for example, sifting through the interventions provided for in the Plan, came to the conclusion that the billions spent in the South will not be more than 22. Exaggeration? Well, the resources of the Recovery and Resilience Device will not directly translate into public investments (the share dispersed in bonuses, incentives, tips to businesses, is considerable).
And then, there is the whole game of tenders. Competition and competition will also apply to the allocation of funds for investments. Between North and South, between the various regions. The government has tried to reassure this point, saying that the 40% clause will also apply to tenders. Nonetheless, even if that were the case, the uncertainty associated with a public selection would not be eliminated. In short, anyone who thinks that the government has decided to make public investments in the south worth over 80 billion is wrong. And there is a paradox. For every billion spent in the South, just under half, however, will bounce back to the North, for the purchase of semi-finished products, equipment, various devices.
But that’s not all. The Plan will not only finance new projects. For each mission, it is envisaged that these new resources will also finance “projects already in place”, for which financial coverage already exists. We are talking about 53.1 billion out of 191.5. How many “projects already in place” are there in the southern regions? Which of these were already financed with resources from the Development and Cohesion Fund already belonging to the South, as an «underutilized area»? Not to mention the fact that some of these works, lying for years in dusty drawers of regions and ministries, now have no adherence with the socio-economic reality of the territories to which they belong and risk turning out to be unattainable.
The truth is that the Pnrr is based on a very specific philosophy regarding the restart of the country after the pandemic, however wrong: the growth differential with the strongest economies of the European Union can only be bridged by giving oxygen and dissolving the bridle to the northern economy. This is not the time to think (or rethink) the “southern question”. Therefore, on the one hand public money for businesses and direct investments in tangible and intangible infrastructures mainly in the north, on the other, reforms that “promote competition in the market for services and products” and “initiatives to modernize the labor market”. Now they call them “context reforms”. The state that sets the table for companies, investing almost all files on the thaumaturgical virtues of the market, which, left free to operate, will create the conditions for the well-being of all.
“The effects of competition are suitable for favoring a more consistent substantial equality and a more solid social cohesion”, reads the Plan. Old workhorse of the liberalists. And the lesson of history is worthless. The important thing is that the economic equilibrium is achieved on the Cartesian axes. In short, the liberal coherence of the “reforms” and the inconsistency of the interventions. A double problem: the south left to itself and a neoliberal development model calibrated for the country’s economic engine. But neither the South nor the North gains. Or rather: the new Italian proletarians do not gain from it, from North to South. It is a model that accentuates territorial inequalities and does not intervene on the explosion and shattering of social inequalities produced by the crisis and the undoing of the Fordist compromise.
What would it take? Another philosophy, another Plan. Or, better still, a new season of economic planning. A strategy to combine economic growth and territorial rebalancing, capital accumulation and productivity on the one hand and widespread well-being and social cohesion on the other. It could be done, but it is a question of the balance of power. Meanwhile, the squares fill up just to say no to the Green Pass.