• Italy's political apparatus costs taxpayers 23 bn euros

Italy's political apparatus costs taxpayers 23 bn euros

A third could be cut, says UIL trade union

(ANSA) - Rome, December 16 - The cost of Italy's political machinery has risen to 23 billion euros annually, according to a study released Monday by the Italian trade union UIL. The trade union said that at least 7.1 billion euros could be cut through reforms to render the national and local political apparatus more efficient. Some of the measures to be implemented would include eliminating some of the provincial governments, which would save 3.2 billion euros, and using provincial funds solely for their legislative functions, which would lead to 1.2 billion euros in savings. The study shows that some two billion are spent every year on cars and taxis for government officials and 2.2 billion on consultancy services. On the upside was a 293-million-euro reduction, 4.6% on the year, of operational costs for institutions, mostly due to the halving of funding for parties supported by the government of former premier Mario Monti. On Friday Premier Enrico Letta's coalition government approved a decree to phase out public funding of Italy's political parties. It is a response to a long series of high-profile corruption scandals that have hit various parts of the country's political spectrum and contributed to widespread disenchantment with its political class. Under the terms of the bill that was presented to parliament, party funding will be reduced to 60% in the first year, 50% in the second and 40% the third year before it is subsequently abolished altogether. Public funding will be replaced by private donations, with limits set on how much an individual or firm can give to any party to avoid excessive power going to lobbies.