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The public administration does not pay, almost 50 billion in debt

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Public administration payments

The Italian public administration (PA) has a current account debt towards its suppliers, mostly SMEs, which in 2022 reached 49.6 billion euros. Practically the same level we had in 2019, the pre-pandemic year. In relation to GDP, missed payments in Italy amount to 2.6 percent.

No other EU27 country has such a high incidence. In short, despite the efforts, our PA continues to be the worst payer in Europe. Also, the result that emerges from the comparison with the main European partners it is merciless: in relation to GDP, in 2022 Spain’s trade debts were equal to 0.8%, in France 1.5% and in Germany 1.6%.

To say it is the CGIA Research Office which processed the data presented in recent days by Eurostat. It should also be remembered that in these 49.6 billion of missed payments those on the current account are included, but those on the capital account are not. It is estimated that, with reference to the latter, another tens of billions of euros may still not have been honoured.

It is useful to recall that in 2022 the Italian public administration spent a total of 171.4 billion euros on its functioning and on improving the country’s performance; of which 115.2 of intermediate consumption and 56.2 of public investments. Even though a good part of the 49.6 billion missed payments accrued before 2022, purely theoretically we can state that 43 per cent of the PA’s intermediate consumption has not yet been settled.

What is not paid

It should be noted that in recent years payment delays, measured through the Payment Timeliness Index (ITP) have been decreasing on average, even if according to the Court of Auditors it would be consolidating a trend in which public administrations favor the rapid payment of larger invoices and intentionally delay the settlement of smaller ones.

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An operating method which, while on the one hand keeps the value of the ITP low, on the other hand penalizes small businesses which, generally, they work in procurement or supply of amounts significantly lower than those “reserved” for larger production activities.

It should also be noted that the extrapolation of the ITP data of the individual local administrations showed that many realities improved their performance in 2022, obtaining negative values ​​(i.e. they paid in advance), but delays remain high for related payments to previous years. Basically, many administrative realities settle the current year’s invoices on time, while intentionally neglecting those received in the past.

Only 3 Ministries pay on time

Analyzing the data relating to the Indicator of Timeliness of Payments (ITP) of 2022, only 3 out of 15 Italian Ministries have complied with the terms of the law envisaged in commercial transactions between a State Administration and a private company. If the MEF (with ITP equal to -1.27), Foreign Affairs (-4.75) and Agriculture (-4.88) they paid their suppliers in advance, while all the others paid after the agreed deadline.

Among the most latecomers we point out the Ministry of Labor and Social Policies (27.51 days late), the University/Research (+38.32) and the Interior (+49.26). Black jersey goes to the former MISE, or the current Ministry of Enterprise and Made in Italy, which last year paid its suppliers with a delay of 85.40 days, practically 3 months after the deadline.

Payments by Regions, Local Health Authorities and Southern Municipalities

At the territorial level, the most critical situation occurs in the South, where payment delays assume very worrying proportions. Among the regional administrations, for example, in 2022 Molise paid its suppliers with a delay of 69 days and Abruzzo even after 74. Piedmont was also bad, which last year settled the invoices received 65 days after the agreed expiry date.

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Even among the Metropolitan Cities, those of the South are, in principle, the worst payers. Also in 2022, that of Reggio Calabria recorded a delay of almost 19 days, that of Messina touched 25 and that of Catania reached 27 days.

Among the main public health agencies in central and southern Italy, however, Catanzaro liquidated its suppliers after 43 days of delay, the ASP of Reggio Calabria after 56 and the ASP of Crotone after almost 113 days. Finally, among the provincial capitals, the most difficult situations occurred in Reggio Calabria (61.43 days late), Chieti (+69.47), Isernia (+93), Andria (+99.09) and Cosenza (+126.25). The situation in the Municipality of Naples was “dramatic”: in 2022 payments were made with a delay of 206 days.

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