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Important new developments in the delicate issue of minimum safety costs and minimum costs are now in force

Paolo Castiglia

IT WAS the most eagerly-awaited news by all sections of the road transport supply chain before the summer: TAR (the regional administrative tribunal) of Lazio has postponed until 25 October discussions about the appeals presented by Confetra and Confindustria regarding the tables prepared by the Road Transport Observatory and, more generally, article  83 bis of Law 133/2008, and has rejected the request for suspension put forward by contractors. This was the final outcome of an issue that has been long-awaited by the road transport world and contractors. “An appeal aimed at annulling the regulations at the basis of minimum safety costs in that, according to the Antitrust, they are contrary to European Community directions with regard to free competition” –Fiap Autotrasporti wrote in a note. – “We have already emphasized what is unusual, forced and dangerous about this interpretation. Contrary to that maintained by the Guarantor Authority, the cost of safety cannot and  must not be confused with tariffs and if the appeal is accepted it would create the absurd situation of legitimizing tariffs that are below production costs to the detriment of the safety of people and goods ”.
This did not happen and the minimum costs are now fully in force: “For us, this is recognition that all the regulations objected to by the Antitrust are not as obvious as those who challenged them maintain”. The words of Paolo Uggè, president of Fai-Conftrasporto, who explained: “We were playing away from home and we won one-nil.  In other words, Confindustria requested a suspension, TAR said no because the conditions for reaching a similar solution were not found. What emerged is this: Confindustria’s position is absurd, it does not accept confrontation because there have been nine months’ of opportunity, and all because it does not want to introduce points of reference that will give road users and workers security”. According to Uggè, this is “a shameful attitude and I believe that the President of the Republic, who rightly intervened in defence of workers, should be involved in these actions: it is not possible that a parliamentary regulation on safety can be so boorishly called into question just because these gentlemen want to make more money”.
It was the second time that TAR Lazio had rejected the request to suspend the application of minimum safety costs for road transport. Obviously, Unatras was very satisfied with the ruling by the Administrative Tribunal: “TAR of Lazio” –  president Francesco Del Boca underlined – “confirmed that the mechanism for determining the costs established by the Observatory on minimum road transport costs was good and, more in general, recognized the aim of protecting road and social safety that was strongly advocated and defended by the road transport category to guarantee healthy competition and fight social dumping and exploitation”. Without minimum costs, Italy “risks becoming a no-man’s land where Italians and foreigners will fight a ‘war of the poor’ to keep transport costs at the lowest levels and ungoverned by any regulations. Italy cannot recover competitiveness with a price war” – Del Boca concluded – “but with quality transport in a free market, with no dysfunctions and in full respect of the law”.

Application of penalties
So what happens to minimum costs now? To start with, it has been clarified that the Ministry for Transport is the authority that will apply penalties for infractions of minimum costs regulations with regard to unwritten transport contracts and the non-observation of the 90-day period for paying invoices.
It was confirmed by the inter-ministerial decree of 20 April published in Official Gazette 140 of 18 June 2012. The regulation explains that “only the Ministry for Transport –  General Management of Road and Intermodal Transport – is the competent authority for applying penalties under paragraph 14 of article 83 bis of Law 133/2008”.
The publication of this provision –  Conftrasporto explained in a note – “has removed one of the main reasons that, until this moment, prevented the application of penalties for infractions because of the fragmentation of the procedure by three bodies, the Ministry for Transport, the Ministry for Economic Development and the Inland Revenue Agency”. Now the Ministry for Transport is responsible for the entire procedure and the implementation of the provision, “therefore the application of penalties for the violation of art. 83 bis will have new impetus”.
Paragraph 14 of article 83 bis provides for two types of penalties for the non-observance of minimum costs and payment terms: exclusion of up to 6 months from public tenders for the supply of goods and services, and exclusion of up to one year from tax, financial and social security benefits of all types provided for by law. The penalties are imposed by the relevant authority – the Ministry for Transport – as follows: exclusion for one year from tax, financial and social security benefits.
Application is for one solar year starting from 1 January of the year following the notification of the  penalty; exclusion of up to 6 months from public tenders. Application is differentiated by the “average percentage variance from legal parameters” in relation to the documents examined: up to 10%, exclusion of 30 days; between 10% and 20%, exclusion of 60 days; over 20%, exclusion of 90 days; over 50%, the exclusion period is doubled. For repeated offences (in the three subsequent years), the period of exclusion is doubled to a maximum of 6 months. The exclusions come into effect from the first day following the date on which the penalty was notified.
The Ministry for Transport will publish on its website a list that will identify those who have received penalties (VAT number, tax ID, general information about the addressee and details of the notification); in the case of disputes, also reported are the relevant judgements and any suspension conceded by the legal authorities.
The list is updated by the General Management of the Ministry of Transport no later than 15 February of each year, with notifications up to 31 December of the previous year to allow bodies and administrations to verify the observance of the applied penalties with reference to all the fiscal benefits. The information will continue to be published until 31 December of the year following the notification of the penalty.

National anti-crisis logistics plan
If interventions according to the National Logistics Plan are not implemented, costs in 2020 will exceed € 200 billion and tens of thousands of jobs will have been lost. This was revealed in a survey carried out by the Bocconi University of Milan and presented in Turin at a conference held by the Road Transport and Logistics Commission. The survey confirmed the importance not only of infrastructures but also of a series of ‘zero cost’ (or almost) interventions, customs one-stop-shops or IT networks that could make the management of goods and international competitiveness more efficient. “Our country” – underlined Commission chairman Bartolomeo Giachino  – “must reduce the incidence of transport and logistics costs on the average cost of production that is currently 20-21% in Italy and 16% in Germany. In other words, if Italy wants to grow, its logistics must be much more efficient”. Giachino also pointed out that with the high-speed rail link (TAV) over 10 million tons of goods could be transported, which would reduce road traffic congestion and pollution and create new jobs in logistics.
“It is necessary” –  stated Unioncamere chairman, Ferruccio Dardanello – “to offer companies finances and tools that will increase their competitiveness and dynamism and encourage them to take made in Italy beyond national borders. But, above all, we need concrete zero-cost interventions that are immediately applicable.”

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