The success of the Recovery and Resilience Plan will depend on many conditions. Among them, one seems particularly important, even if not very present in the political and public discussion in general: the ability of the Plan to direct its resources in all the territories of our country, in order to favor processes of social strengthening and development everywhere. economic.
Beyond the sustained and welcome economic recovery of recent months, the Italian economy should be able to record growth rates for the entire decade that are much higher than those of the past; but to achieve this objective one cannot certainly count on the hypothetical, unverified, driving effect of some stronger city or province: productivity levels and employment rates must grow throughout Italy. Especially where they are lower, or the recent trends are more worrying: as in the South or in not small parts of the Center and also in the North-West characterized by rather negative economic trends in the 1910s. Now, due to its very genesis and its formulation, the Relaunch Plan intervenes along sectorial lines; cases in which investment projects are identified and precisely localized are relatively rare (apart from interventions on railway networks).
In 122 of the 187 investment lines that can be counted in the Plan, there is no reference, even in principle, to the geographical allocation of investments. As is known, the Government undertakes in the Plan to allocate 40% of the total, that is approximately 82 billion, to the South.
But on reading the text of the document (which is what matters, given that it forms the legal commitment of our country with Brussels), as highlighted on 6 July in these columns, these figures are not found as the sum of precise lines of investment. The generic political direction is one thing, certain commitments are another thing.
It is no coincidence that the government was forced to intervene in July with a surprising procedure (an amendment to one of its decrees) to reaffirm that 40% constraint which was evidently not so obvious. The theme remains open on the table.
What will really happen will depend on the implementation processes of the Plan, which are very different and still uncertain. The lines of investment follow different paths. In a few cases, it has been said, there are “names, surnames and addresses” of the projects and it is only necessary to carry them out; in other important cases (such as for the 4.0 incentives or the construction super-bonus) the resources will go where there will be more demand from the private sector; in still others (as in the case of health services or justice) there should be national documents with territorial allotment criteria.
But in many cases, and this is the important point we want to talk about, the central administrations will prepare calls for tenders, in which the territories will be called to participate through their local administrations. The outcome of the calls will determine the territorial allocation of the funds. This is what will happen to many important public infrastructures and services.
Now, it is quite clear that the outcome will depend on the ability of local administrations to prepare projects: unfortunately it is legitimate to have many concerns, also in light of the severe staff cuts to which they have been subjected in the last decade. The fear is that it is assumed that municipal administrations will be able to use (planning, contracting, building, putting into operation) the more than 70 billion in public investments that the Plan allocates to them; and that therefore we end up favoring the “construction projects”, which and where they are, or the administrations with the best of the strongest territories.
But the outcome of the calls, and here we are, also depends on the criteria they provide. And as mentioned yesterday in this newspaper, we don’t get off to a good start. The call, based on resources of the Plan, for the new nursery schools was in fact built with indicators (starting with the co-financing capacity of local authorities) which ended up diverting a significant portion of the funds to areas already well equipped with facilities. and services.
Unfortunately, the very right indication of priorities for the nursery schools of the Plan (to which it allocates over 4 billion) is not accompanied in its text by any explicit political direction towards a reduction of the enormous inequalities between territories in this area. The Plan indicates a national average objective, but does not indicate any specific, concrete, measurable objective on a territorial basis. Also in the light of this serious lack, the outcome of the announcement is worrying.
As we all know, our future is in many ways linked to a successful implementation of the Plan. But success will not only depend on the amount of expenditure, but also and above all on the quality of investments and their geographical allocation. In the coming months, implementation will proceed, we all hope, swiftly: also to respect the commitments with the Commission and obtain new payment tranches.
It will therefore be essential to monitor with the utmost attention the concrete measures, national plans, calls for proposals and their criteria; to attract the attention of Parliament and public opinion in general. It will not be easy at all, both due to the enormous thematic extension of the Plan and its complex and diversified implementation methods, as mentioned above, and because more than denouncing and complaining about the results, it will be necessary to be able to discuss and intervene before the processes are set in motion.
An overall attitude will be important: you can help the Government to be successful by not applauding every one of its initiatives a priori, but with careful participation, helping to identify knots and problems, criticizing the choices (such as those for nursery schools) that are they feel wrong.
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