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PM Draghi holds press conference with Minister Franco, Minister Cingolani and Undersecretary Garofoli

Friday, 16 September 2022

Prime Minister Draghi's introduction

Good afternoon.

First of all, I wish to express sincere condolences for the victims of the flooding in the Marche region. On behalf of the Government and personally, I express sympathy to the victims’ families and to all those who have been injured. 

After this press conference, I’ll travel to the Marche region to try and grasp first-hand what has happened and to personally express the sympathy we are all feeling. 

The Head of the Civil Protection Department, Fabrizio Curcio, arrived there this morning to provide all the support necessary on behalf of the Government. The Council of Ministers has declared a state of emergency for the Marche region and has earmarked EUR 5 million for initial measures for the local population. 

This morning, I also spoke with President of the Region Acquaroli, assuring him that the Government will do everything necessary. I also wish to thank the civil protection department and local authorities, starting with President of the Region Acquaroli and the mayors of the areas affected, who are personally playing a key role in representing the state during this tragedy.  I wish to thank all those involved with the search and rescue operations for their professionalism, dedication and courage.

Let us now come to today’s Council of Ministers meeting, which once again covered a lot in many areas: first and foremost, helping households and businesses to deal with the energy crisis, the increase in bills and higher living costs in general; second, speeding up implementation of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (‘NRRP’), in particular the part regarding structural reforms, with the aim of achieving as many objectives as possible before the next government (as I have already stated in the past); third, implementing energy diversification, moving from Russian gas towards renewables because, as unfortunately yesterday’s and today’s events show us, this is essential to survive – today’s events show us that the fight against climate change is fundamental.

The decree approved today is worth a total of EUR 14 billion in support for households, businesses and local authorities, in addition to almost EUR 50 billion already earmarked over the last months. Overall, we are therefore talking about over EUR 60 billion, which is a significant amount, equal to 3.5% of GDP, making us one of the European countries to have spent the most. There are graphs, descriptions and tables showing how Italy is among those that have spent the most on supporting the economy. Incidentally, today’s decree is worth EUR 14 billion, while the ‘Aiuti-bis’ decree, which is in the process of being approved, is worth EUR 17 billion, for a total of approximately EUR 31 billion, which would appear to perfectly satisfy the calls for a EUR 30 billion budget slippage. So, this need has been fulfilled, unless of course some were thinking of a budget slippage of EUR 30 billion a month. We therefore do not foresee any budget slippage, and will instead use the higher tax revenues from the last months that have been generated by the increase in the inflation rate and by growth. The fact that the Italian economy is performing better than expected, despite the crisis, is allowing us to help households and businesses without putting our public finances at risk and causing market tensions. Minister Franco, whom I wish to thank, along with everyone at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, for the huge amount of work carried out, will be providing more details about the measures shortly. I wish to congratulate Minister Franco once again, and I hope that the next government will have a minister as good as him, because – and I don’t want to be too emphatic here - we have managed to support the Italian economy over the last 18 months at the same time as reducing our level of debt, which is something that I don’t believe has ever happened in the post-war period, at least in absolute terms.  So, from all points of view, this economic policy manoeuvre laid the foundations for more than 6% growth last year and over 3% this year – exemplary management.    

As I said, Minister Franco will provide more precise details on the measures, but I wish to highlight one that is particularly interesting with regard to bill payments: the banking system (a number of large banks) has stated its willingness to work together for the country. In this case, working together for the country means being ready to issue loans at the BTP rate, i.e., without any additional commissions, to entrepreneurs and businesses for bill payments and, in general, for working capital needs. These loans will be guaranteed by the State, but unlike other guarantees granted in the past, this guarantee will be free of charge. So, considering that it is somewhat difficult to pay bills in instalments, this, in every respect, is equivalent to paying in instalments, as a loan can be requested that can then be repaid over 5-6-7-8 years, i.e., equivalent to instalment payments. 

Today’s decree also extends tax credits for companies and increases the relative amounts and the number of beneficiaries. Indeed, today’s measure also includes small enterprises with electricity consumption levels that had not been included in the previous measures. Today’s decree therefore means that hundreds of thousands of small enterprises will have access to this credit for the first time. 

We have also approved something that will be the biggest surprise, as it was completely unexpected: a social contribution of EUR 150 for around 22 million Italians who earn less than EUR 20 thousand per year, including very low earners [so-called ‘incapienti’].

We are earmarking EUR 400 million for regional authorities to help hospitals and care facilities and additional funds will also go to other local authorities, the third sector and sports federations. There is also a specific measure worth EUR 190 million to support the agricultural sector. I wish to state once again: supporting employment, growth, businesses, households and the most vulnerable has been the social agenda of the Government I have had the honour of leading. I also wish to point out another thing: Minister Bianchi has today provided details of the completion of the technical institute reform, which is part of the NRRP. However, he also remarked on the fact that schools have once again reopened, just like last year, in an orderly way: all teachers are present, despite the forecasts again of inconvenience, disaster, of hundreds, thousands of teachers missing. All these forecasts have been proven wrong, and this is simply because Minister Bianchi and the Ministry of Education began working on ensuring schools would open correctly back in January, at the beginning of the year, not two months ago. This is the big difference with Minister Bianchi.

I also wish to highlight two legislative decrees that have been approved to support competition. One is the reform of local public services, which introduces greater transparency, reduces conflicts of interest, better defines the conditions for projects to be awarded in-house and encourages aggregations. We of course all want citizens to have better public services and this is hopefully an important measure in that direction. The second is the mapping of concessions, which will make it more simple to check the relative terms and conditions and how state-owned assets are entrusted.

With regard to energy diversification, there is also now a measure that sets rapid and certain time frames for the installation of the regasifier in Piombino, which is essential; it is a matter of national security. It is essential to ensure gas supplies. We have also approved another six wind parks, which add to the 45 already authorised; another 14 are still pending which we intend to authorise in the weeks we have left before the end of the Government.  

[Courtesy translation]