Tria (and not only) mince the Recovery Plan

Tria (and not only) mince the Recovery Plan

Facts, names, numbers, curiosities and controversies. The tweets of Michele Arnese, director of Start, on Recovery Plan and beyond




Reading the new draft of the PNRR approved by the last Council of Ministers, the first worrying feeling is that too many pages of the more than 160 of which the draft is composed describe needs and not projects. We have a long sequence of areas of intervention and corresponding statements that will be invested in these areas. The second worrying feeling is that the allocation of resources to the six missions envisaged by the plan, and to the components of which they are composed, does not derive from an estimate of project costs and from a selection of projects based on the expected return in terms of benefits. and expected results, both relating to the individual project and deriving from the contribution to the performance of the entire plan in terms of growth. The feeling is that it is more a question of spending constraints, that is, a division of available resources. In other words, financial coverage is defined. This feeling also depends on the amazement at the speed, a few days, with which this allocation of resources has changed from one draft to the next: tens of billions do not easily move from one area to another if there are real, structured projects behind it. . The fact remains that it must be acknowledged that the expected increase in the share of resources intended, a priori, for investments and in the share of European resources destined to finance additional programs with respect to those already envisaged represents an improvement in the approach to the Plan compared to previous drafts.

These two worrying sensations seem to confirm that the reason why in Italy it is not possible to launch public investments lies in the fact that there are not only implementation problems but also, upstream, serious problems of planning capacity. Not because there is a lack of skills but because the places where programming and design have to be dismantled have been dismantled, while a paralyzing implementation and control system has been built, almost as compensation. For this reason, investment proposals should be accompanied by reform plans, which essentially means changing the rules of the game for all actors, public and private. The reforms of public administration, justice, welfare mean this for the purposes of the Recovery Plan.

The third worrying feeling is that the long list of shadowed interventions does not form a development plan, does not give a sense of their coherence and of the overall industrial and social development project in which they are inserted. This is a crucial issue because it is the clarity and concreteness of vision that can move private investments in the long term of gestation and implementation of public projects, giving them a clear reference framework. Public investment is not just about fueling demand but must serve to increase the return on private investment, and without it there will not be enough growth to make the accumulated debt mountain sustainable.

The fourth worrying feeling is that, after about seven months, there is still no definition of who should do what. We are not talking about the phantom control rooms hypothesized outside the public administration, which I hope have faded because they are clearly recognized by almost all observers as an instrument of political control, moreover inefficient. We are not even talking about who will have to coordinate and control the execution of the projects, when they will be there, but we are talking about who has to draw up the unitary plan by evaluating and validating, for the individual components, the objectives, relevance, implementation tools, direct and indirect benefits. What is the specific structure, in which ministry, under what responsibility (the general policy belongs to the Council of Ministers as a whole). In other words, who will sign the documents to be sent to Brussels , besides the President of the Council?

We talked about feelings, albeit worrying, because it is not yet clear whether, three months from the date on which Italy is expected to present its plan to the European Commission, we are faced with an empty box or a "black box". In the sense that – while waiting to know the project sheets and the specific evaluations of objectives, expected results and implementation tools – we do not know what is inside the box of which we have seen the wrapping. Maybe there is everything and, for inscrutable reasons, the secret is kept. Perhaps work is simply in progress and more time is needed and there is no point in arguing over delays.

But here the mother of questions arises: what has the Council of Ministers approved? What will Parliament approve when the PNRR is submitted to it? A "black box"? We have long argued in these pages that the basic, therefore political, credibility of the PNRR will depend on its sharing by all political forces, the majority and the opposition, for the simple fact that its implementation will pass through different legislatures and governments. . But this sharing takes place if the various phases of definition of both the strategy and its design articulation are discussed and shared. And the state control structure of the entire plan must be shared, which must ensure the continuity of public action. It is striking that the "black box", as we have defined it with optimism, is not currently known and shared even by the majority political forces, at least than that which existed until yesterday. We have not even seen the involvement of local administrations and social partners who, like Parliament, have been essentially ignored. In short, the country is not behind the plan.

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL on Sat, 16 Jan 2021 10:29:46 +0000.