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20/12/2011
DEEP RED

ROAD TRANSPORT
With the closure of 24,000 companies and the loss of 60,000 jobs, the transport and warehousing sector has been deeply wounded by the recession. But significant help is on the way.

 

Paolo Castiglia

The road transport sector has been in the grip of the recession throughout 2011; the only shot in the arm coming from a 400-million-euro contribution allocated by the stability law. And the figures in general are alarming: 24,000 transport companies have closed and 60,000 jobs have been lost. The alarm was given by Paolo Uggè, the national vice chairman of Confcommercio, the Italian federation of commerce, tourism, services and SMEs: "From 2008 to the first six months of 2011, the transport and warehousing sector recorded a negative balance between new registrations and the cancellation of about 24,000 companies from Chamber of Commerce registers" - Uggè said. In the third-party haulier sector, the number of companies in the relevant register in 2010 dropped to 156,770, over 16,000, or 9.5%, fewer than in 2008. In 2010, 18,616 million tons of goods per kilometre were transported by rail, a downturn of 26% compared to 2007", Uggè explained.
The vice chairman of Confcommercio also emphasized that the brake applied by the bureaucratic machine on Italy's road to international competitiveness is frightening. "Foreign goods arriving at domestic ports" - Uggè stated - "go through 73 customs operations for 16 different offices". The national vice chairman of Confcommercio (who is also national chairman of Fai Conftrasporto) also underlined that the hands of the clock have been put back six years for maritime transport, with the total amount of goods passing through Italian ports at the same level as 2004: "The figures for container traffic at the main Italian ports have returned to those of 2005, with about 1 million containers (TEU) lost in 2010 compared to 2007", Uggè concluded.
However, something has moved for 2012: point 10 of article 33 of the stability law confirms next year's funds for road transport. A contribution of 400 million euros has been authorized for 2012 and will be used to support the goods road transport sector. Within thirty days from the date the law came into effect, a decree by the Minister for Infrastructures and Transport in concert with the Minister for the Economy and Finance divided the funds among the various interventions already envisaged by current legislation and sector requirements.
This is how the 400 million will be divided for road transport.
The majority of the funds, 135 million euros, will be allocated for tax relief on National Health Service contributions for RCA (motor-vehicle liability) insurance and on undocumented expenses by third-party hauliers with one vehicle. Another 91 million euros will go towards reducing premiums by INAIL (the industrial injury compensation board); 75 million for the reimbursement of motorway tolls; 30 million for combined road and sea transport (ecobonus) in 2011. Lastly, 34 million will go towards reducing the heavy-vehicle ownership tax and 35 million for sector reorganization and training initiatives. If the European Commission says that the reduction of the ownership tax is not compatible with Community regulations, the parties have decided that the 34 million euros will go towards reducing motorway tolls (25 million).
The Senate also authorized a series of motions to cope with the crisis in Italy's road transport sector. Specifically, an agenda was approved by which the government is committed to applying the "protection clause": the European Commission will be requested to take measures to protect a country's road transport if the domestic market is seriously disrupted in a certain geographical area. This is a reference to foreigners providing haulage services as they pass through Italy: "we are working in Brussels to halt indiscriminate attempts to open up cabotage: the approval of this agenda is strategically important, our country cannot, and must not, take the decisions of others lying down", commented the chairman of ConfartigianatoTrasporti and Uetr, Francesco Del Boca.

 

Protocol for legality

 

The issue of legality has also come under the spotlight: in the presence of the Minster of the Interior, Roberto Maroni, the chairman of Confcommercio, Carlo Sangalli, and the deputy vice chairman of Confcommercio-Conftrasporto, Paolo Uggé, a framework protocol for the legality and safety of companies was signed by the Ministry of the Interior and Confcommercio-Imprese for Italy, and a legality and safety protocol by the Ministry of the Interior and Conftrasporto-Confcommercio. The purpose of the protocols is to prevent, oppose and curb any infiltration of organized crime in the transport, shipment and logistics sector.
"The code of silence", Maroni emphasized, "does organized crime a favour. The protocol is an extraordinary tool for fighting crime and allows businesses to operate with serenity and in safety". This, explained the chairman of Confcommercio, Carlo Sangalli, "is the arrival point on a long road of collaboration with the Ministry of the Interior. Safety is a prerequisite for development and growth".

 

 

• Confcommercio applies for damages for Sistri

 

Confcommercio will request the Ministry of the Environment to reimburse not only the Sistri contributions that have been paid to date, but also the costs sustained by companies for the implementation of the tracking system. The commerce federation, of which Conftrasporto is also a member, announced legal action against the Ministry of the Environment for the reimbursement of the contributions paid for the waste tracking system that is still not operational because of delays and technical problems.
"Specifically, the legal action will be for compensation for the negative effects the introduction of Sistri had on production and includes the reimbursement of the last two years' contributions to guarantee a system that has never been fully operational", explained Luigi Bianchi, the chairman of the Commissione Consiliare Ambiente ed Energia di Confcommercio. "The action will also include a request for damages in proportion to the loss of assets by those who were required to register with a system that failed to operate".
Bianchi emphasized that personnel and organizational costs are in addition to the expense of purchasing and installing electronic devices and the payment of the annual contribution under the terms of the current regulation. Confcommercio estimates that the contributions paid for Sistri by the 325,000 registered companies alone amount to 70 million euros. "To give an idea of the economic impact, in the two years since the start of the system, a medium-sized haulier has had to pay out 35,000 euros for contributions, the cost of mounting the black box and the estimated cost of vehicles at a standstill", Bianchi concluded.

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