Taxes "intolerable" says industry chief

Squinzi's speech outlined a vision for a more vigorous economy along free market principles (InfoPhoto)

ROME-- The new head of employers’ union Confindustria, Giorgio Squinzi, has called the “tax burden” in Italy “intolerable” and questioned the current programme of reforms.

 The remarks came during Squinzi’s first address as president, having been elected yesterday as successor to Emma Marcegaglia, the organisation’s first female leader. Speaking at a conference on productivity organised in conjunction with Lega Nord representatives, Squinzi warned his audience that current tax levels in Italy are “a burden which adds to other burdens.”

 The new president went on to cast doubt on the Monti administration’s economic reforms, which have been criticised for raising tax levels on an already squeezed nation. The measures are “less beneficial to the nation’s competitivity and to business than we would have hoped,” he said. “The reform changes the system… but to our mind, not always in a way which is reassuring.”

 Squinzi condemned the current tax rates of 68 per cent on businesses and compared them to those of other European countries, where the average rate ranges from 52 to 37 per cent. “There is urgent need of change,” he said to applause from the audience, urging the government to make “real cuts” to public spending. However, Squinzi praised Monti’s efforts to crack down on tax evasion, and suggested the money gained from this initiative could be used to subsidise tax cuts. The only way to relieve the unreasonable pressure which Italian businesses are currently subject to, he said, is “privatisation, liberalisation and making the most of public assets with the goal of reducing the deficit.”

 His words were warmly received by the Confindustria members present. Founded in 1910, the employers’ union represents 149,288 companies and is a powerful voice on behalf of industry. They have been a consistent force for free market economics and deregulation as the best way to inject life into the Italy’s notoriously sluggish economy.

 Tapping into the climate of frustration which has gripped the nation, Squinzi said: “Italians are making sacrifices and they don’t understand why the State can’t cut back the way businesses are cutting back - the way they are cutting back themselves in their own families.”