Santa Margherita Ligure

Italy risks social 'revolt' say young employers

No miracles needed, just statesmen says Morelli

Italy risks social 'revolt' say young employers

Santa Margherita Ligure, June 7 - Soaring jobless rates and the lack of prospects for young people mean politicians face a social "revolt" in Italy, young employers said Friday. They also called for "statesmen rather than miracles" and urged business-crippling tax rates to be lowered. "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, Jacopo Morelli. He warned: "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 that stay face the bleakest job prospects in decades and the impossibility of starting families, amid widespread talk of a 'lost generation'. Morelli said 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". Morelli called on the 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 the economy. 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 euros 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 is a problem for Letta as ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi has threatened to bring down the government if it doesn't meet his key campaign pledge of scrapping it and repaying last year's proceeds. Letta, who has for now just postponed a June instalment of the tax, is widely expected to repeal it and re-introduce some form of property tax under a different name, exempting the less well-off. 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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