(see related) Rome, June 18 - The Italian antitrust authority chief on Tuesday told parliament that the watchdog had ordered more than 182 million euros' worth of fines over 17 months covering 2012 through May 2013. A total of 170 million euros stemmed from 31 cases of unfair competition practices, said Giovanni Pitruzzella, president of the Italy's Antitrust Authority, in his annual report presentation. Pitruzella urged parliament to create more competitive conditions across a number of sectors, singling out automotive insurance as a particularly dire example. "The average (auto insurance) premium is more than twice that paid in France and Portugal, and exceeds German (premiums) by 80% and Dutch premiums by almost 70%," Pitruzella said. The antitrust chief also called for overhauling Italy's "geriatric" rail transport authority, warned that the nation's electrical suppliers were on the verge of damaging structural change that could lead to price hikes, and urged parliament to make Italy a hub for Mediterranean gas. To become a gas hub, Italy needs to "create structural excess supply" within national borders, requiring "new, limited investments," Pitruzzella explained. The antitrust annual report recommends facilitating the creation of liquified natural gas (LNG) plants, for which "the complexity of administrative procedures have weighed negatively," Pitruzzella warned.
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di Giovanni Pastore