A campaign has been launched for a citizen’s audit of Italy’s debt.
Behind the initiative are Giorgio Cremaschi, a senior figure in the FIOM metalworkers union, former Communist Refoundation leader Fausto Bertinotti and economist Loretta Napoleoni, among others.
The aim of the popular debt audit is to create a commission, made up of a representatives from civil society as well as experts such as economists, that will examine the public debt, how it was contracted, in whose interests and for what purpose.
This would identify the “illegitimate” debt, that is, debt contracted to support profits, speculation by the big banks, to sustain the capitalist economy, used to apply socially unfair policies or for violations of people’s economic, social, cultural and civil rights. And then once identified, there would be a campaign to repudiate this “illegitimate” debt.
The petition for the campaign says:
“We want our proposal to examine in depth the nature of Italian public debt that has accumulated over time in favour of profits, the [privileged] ‘caste’ and a small elite – certainly not in order to finance social spending, education, culture or employment.”
“This proposal aims to promote another economic policy, a genuine alternative to that pursued over recent years by various governments. This will seek a redistribution of the wealth and place greater value on “common goods”, jobs, welfare and the environment. It will oppose the interests of profit and financial speculation.
“An economic policy for the 99%, not the 1%.”
Some facts about Italy’s debt:
- In 1980 the public debt as proportion of wealth (GDP) was 59%; it rose to 100% by 1990 and then to 124% by 1995, falling back to 109% by 2001 and then rising again to 120% in 2011
- Pensions spending has remained at about 33% of GDP since 1960 while health spending has remained at around 10.5% and education spending has fallen from 11% to 9%
- Welfare spending increased in line with GDP between 1980 and 1990 and since then it has been falling
- Businesses are getting about Euros 30 billion a year from the state, via a myriad of incentives and tax breaks that have increased significantly since the early 1980s
- Between 2000 and 2010 the tax “burden” on companies fell from 41.4% to 31.4%, a 9.9 percentage point cut
- Tax evasion stands at least Euros 120 billion annually
Support for popular debit audits has been growing elsewhere on the Continent, including France, Greece and Portugal.