Santa Margherita Ligure

Italy risks social 'revolt' says head of young employers

Morelli says government must focus on business taxes, not IMU

Italy risks social 'revolt' says head of young employers

Santa Margherita Ligure, June 7 - Soaring jobless rates and the lack of prospects for young people mean politicians could soon face a social "revolt" in Italy, the head of a young employers group warned Friday. Jacopo Morelli called on Italy's government to take substantial measures to reform the tax system, improve equality in the name of economic efficiency, and demonstrate the courage necessary to deal with a myriad of problems plaguing business and economy. "They (the politicians) have emptied tomorrow of hope and filled the present with anguish," said the head of the young employers' branch of influential industrial confederation Confindustria. "Without prospects for the future, the only prospect becomes revolt". More than 40% of Italian 15-to-24 year-olds are out of work while businesses are shutting down all over the country and the rate of start-ups is at an all-time low. Many of the best young Italian minds and talents are leaving the country while those who stay face the bleakest job prospects in decades and the impossibility of starting families, amid widespread talk of a 'lost generation'. Morelli said Premier Enrico Letta's new government, which has vowed to revive an economy in its longest recession for 20 years, must help Italian entrepreneurs and workers "pursue together development, growth and social cohesion". As a starting point, government must quickly address the lack of business confidence that stems from fears about the stability of the government and the economy, said Morelli. Staggering job losses, falling industrial production and concerns over government stability all undermine business prospects. "No entrepreneur can work if he does not have security...Whatever the company, it demands confidence". That also means government must focus more attention on business and labour taxes, and worry less about the controversial IMU property tax, Morelli told a two-day conference of young business leaders. Another high priority must be closing the "wound" of tax evasion and corruption, which undermines confidence in the government and its economy, he added. The loss of 120 billion euro to tax evasion and another 60 billion euro to corruption kill respect for the government and force legitimate businessmen and tax payers to make up the difference, said Morelli. The hated IMU has become a serious problem for Letta as ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's PdL has threatened to bring down the new government if it doesn't eliminate the IMU. Italian business also needs the labour provided by immigrants as well as greater certainty in the laws surrounding newcomers to the country, said Morelli, wading into a major debate in Italy over possible liberalization of immigration laws. New immigrants should be treated more equally - as should women and any other group that has been marginalized, said Morelli. Moves in this direction should not be feared but welcomed as good for business and the economy, he added. "An unequal country is an inefficient country," he said, adding that inequality "impoverishes everyone". He noted that the uncertainties and struggles that Italy faces today are not so different from those faced more than 500 years ago, when Italian political thinker Machiavelli wrote The Prince, an innovative treatise on government. "In the summer of 1513, Machiavelli began writing The Prince in an Italy plagued by uncertainties and struggles," said Morelli. "Today, after 500 years, similarities are (still) there". And that should serve as a wake-up call to government to do more to move Italy away from the fear and uncertainty the economy faces today. "When the future is fear, when inequality threatens our society...there comes a time, and that time is now," to stop wasting opportunities for dramatic economic and fiscal reforms, he said.

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