The numbers of the new Italian public finance program still have a few days to take on a definitive form, but all the updates of the macroeconomic framework, most recently the industrial production on Thursday, help to reinforce the idea of a growing rebound. And the ever-cautious declarations of the Economy Minister Daniele Franco also color with growing optimism. On the debt «the new estimate in Nadef [Nota di aggiornamento, ndr] will be significantly better than that indicated in Def [Documento di economia e finanza, ndr]», He explained yesterday on the sidelines of the informal Ecofin in Slovenia, also to respond to the fears expressed by the Northern countries in the debate that is igniting on the reform of EU tax rules. Rules that, he added, “are not our greatest concern at the moment”, because that of debt reduction in the coming years “is a path that we will follow anyway”.
The deficit could be as low as 10%
A GDP that for this year travels about two points above the trend growth of 4.1% calculated in the Def of spring means, together with a dynamics of revenues and expenses better than expected, a deficit that could stop even before 10%, against 11.8% of the Def. Net, however, of the interventions that could still ask for a few decimals of the deficit on this year, starting with the new stop on collection that has been requested by the whole Parliament and could find space in a fiscal decree together with the Nadef. In any case, the debt curve will not draw the four-point staircase (from 155.8 to 159.8% of GDP) estimated in the spring, while for 2022 a non-marginal reduction will be confirmed. Also because, for the first time in many years, the next Italian maneuver will not be accompanied by the traditional request for a deviation.
Meeting in Slovenia after the summer recess, EU finance ministers yesterday began discussing how to boost public investment after the economic crisis triggered by the viral pandemic, without jeopardizing the need to reduce huge debt accumulated over the past two years. The discussion will take a long time, but an agreement between the member countries appears possible despite the differences of departure.
Gentiloni: “We cannot afford a drop in investments”
“We must avoid what happened in the wake of the previous crisis when investments fell to zero,” explained the Commissioner for Economic Affairs Paolo Gentiloni here in Ljubljana. “This time we cannot afford a drop in investments.” The problem is particularly topical because there is an urgent need to finance the digital and green transition, as well as repair the economic damage caused by the pandemic (see The sun 24 hours on Saturday 11 September). On the table is the recurring idea of the golden rule, a rule that excludes investments from the calculation of the deficit. Some countries are cold. Austrian Finance Minister Gernot Blümel explained: “We must have room for maneuver on the budget front to prepare for the next crisis.” Asked if he could accept the adoption of the so-called golden rule, the minister replied evasively: “We will have to evaluate the details of a possible proposal from the Commission.”
“Frugal” more open to environmental investments
A participant in the ministerial meeting noted yesterday: “The so-called frugal countries have reaffirmed their point of view, but have shown themselves to be open to the possibility of promoting environmental investments”. On the other hand, all governments know in their hearts how it is necessary to help growth also to reduce debt. “Everyone’s attitude is one of dialogue,” assured the Minister of the Economy Franco.