WHO WILL LOOK AFTER TRANSPORT?
Among the institutions that have been abolished is the General Committee for Road Transport and Logistics. So, what will happen now? And what about the Observatory on the cost of road transport safety? Everything has been passed to the Ministry’s Department of Land Transport
AMONG THE other institutions, the General Committee for Road Transport and Logistics was abolished on 28 July and “the activities of the institutions have been definitively transferred to the relevant offices of the administrations in which they operate”. The words of the well-known “Spending Review”. So, now what happens? And what about the Observatory on the cost of road transport safety? Everything has been passed to the Ministry’s Department of Land Transport: “The General Management for Road and Intermodal Transport at the Ministry for Infrastructures and Transport” – explained a Committee note that was sent before it closed – “recently transferred the activities previously carried out by the Committee”. And the transfer was extremely quick, to the extent that the Ministry for Transport rapidly updated the tables of minimum road transport costs: just a few days after the publication of those for July with the price of diesel fixed in June, last September it published the August diesel prices.
After replacing the Observatory for Road Transport (extinguished together with the Committee it reported to), the General Management for Road and Intermodal Transport at the Ministry for Transport updated the tables of minimum road transport costs. Apart from the kilometre costs, the structure of the tables is the same - five tables for generic transport divided by total vehicle mass, and ten tables for some specialized transport. The minimum costs for contractors are shown on a green background, whereas operating costs (to be applied only between by road hauliers in the case of subcontracted haulage) are shown on a blue background. Reassured, at least in part, by the rapid transfer was Paolo Uggè, chairman of FAI – Conftrasporto, who explained that “without safety costs workers risk their lives and firms risk bankruptcy”. With these words Paolo Uggè opened the letter he decided to write to all road transport contractors.
Returning to the closure of the Committee, it must be said that its work has not stopped completely: its Scientific Committee has prepared the definitive text of the National Logistics Plan 2012-2020, and former chairman, Bartolomeo Giachino, has invited Minister Passera to the presentation to CIPE. Compared to the 2006 Plan, the new text centres totally on the thrust that could be given to the Italian economy by actions that will reduce inefficient logistics that are estimated to be €40 billion, and by implementing Ten-T European transport networks, no fewer than four of which will cross the Po Valley.
In the document, ports and railways have a key role so it cannot be said to be road transport-biased, even though it defines important industrial policy measures for Italy’s fragmented road transport. The ultimate aim of the Plan is to make Italy a Mediterranean logistics platform for goods coming to Europe and for those that Europe exports by sea to Africa and South America. Very updated with regard to data, the document puts Italy in 24th place in the world classification of efficient logistics and in 8th place for GDP.
This low ranking costs us €40 billion in inefficient logistics which, together with the higher cost of energy and bureaucracy, weighs heavily on our ability to compete and is one of the major reasons that economic growth has been so low in the past ten years. The Plan therefore aims to eliminate inefficient logistics over the next ten years. In conclusion, it is a Plan of Operations that identifies the actions – some of which won’t cost a thing – for reducing inefficient logistics in an extensive cooperation with operators. Obviously, the Plan contains the first four operational proposals that were approved at the Committee meeting on 29 May.
From an operational point of view, a shot in the arm for firms in the sector comes from the Roll, which has started to reimburse 2010 tolls; the Roll’s Central Committee has in fact received funds for the payment of reduced tolls for road hauliers, firms that had the right to partial reimbursement in 2010. It is about €98 million, which the Committee will forward to Società Autostrade for the payment of advances on discounts in proportion to the percentages assigned for deductions from invoices. And again regarding firm management, important news comes from the regulatory front: firms who transport goods for third parties are not breaking the law if they transport goods on their own behalf; decision 13.725 by the Court of Cassation establishes this new principle. In fact the Court repeats what the Justice of the Peace had already decided, in other words that “transport on behalf of third parties has a wider context and is subject to stricter conditions and requirements. Hence, it can be considered to include transport on one’s own behalf, which is a “minus” in that it is excessive to expect that those who have already obtained the higher qualification must also obtain another one in order to carry out a business that Law 298/74 defines as complementary or accessory within the framework of the main business”.
• More equality for roadside checks
The impunity of drivers of vehicles with foreign number plates is an unacceptable situation as it distorts the market and also deprives the Italian State of income given the high number of foreign vehicles that use our roads”. This was the strong complaint made by Anita, the trade association that is part of Confindustria, in a letter in defence of Italian road hauliers written to Corrado Passera, the Minister for Economic Development, Infrastructures and Transport: “there are anomalies” – the letter explained – “in the application of the Highway Code with regard to sanctions that put Italian road hauliers at a disadvantage compared to those from abroad.” For infringements of the Highway Code, the letter goes on, “drivers of vehicles with foreign number plates pay a fine equal to the legal minimum, whereas those with an Italian number plate pay an amount equal to half of the maximum”. Another anomaly is infractions detected by remote systems such as “Tutor” and the Autovelox speed traps. In this case, as fines cannot be issued immediately, “the notification” – the letter explained – “must be received within 360 days otherwise it lapses and it is left to the transgressor to pay the fine. Coercive measures cannot be taken abroad and no action can be taken during subsequent checks in Italy because there is no databank with the results of notifications carried out abroad.” The Directive regarding the cross-border exchange of information about road safety infractions – which must be adopted by Member states by 7 November 2013 – should ensure” – the letter to the Minister continued – “the effectiveness of fines for violations committed abroad, however, considering that this Directive will take several years to become operational, according to Anita “solutions must be found at the earliest in order to fill the gap that makes our roads less safe”, as well as being disadvantageous for national operators.