For some years now, the trace of inflation has slipped into our lives and is becoming more and more marked, a gash that opens in the bowels of a subdued scenario. Little money and many dreams that flourish in a daily reality that, in Calabria, is nightmarish. In many houses we survive on the edge of everything and even lack the money for bread. Pockets of hardship expand while jobs (and incomes) vanish, with no turnover. The upward race in the prices of the main consumer goods and energy products weighs on the social balance. And it’s not about options but about forced expenses. Fixed costs that are changing the dynamics of consumption that is developing according to a new grammar of needs. A scenario that is combined in the report of the Confcommercio Research Office which sheds light on the changes in spending habits over the last 30 years. A photograph that is also confirmed at the regional level.
Beyond the crisis
Klaus Algieri is the president of the regional Confcommercio and is the national vice president of Unioncamere (he is the first Calabrian ever to reach the finish line). The su, therefore, is a technical vision from a privileged observation point: «Now, consumption is more oriented towards personal care, leisure, travel and culture. Then there is one item that has grown the most and has done so with exponential growth: it is the hi-tech and telephony sector. Overall, even within a context of difficulty, we expect a return to pre-Covid levels. Basically, the climb towards normality could be completed, which it is hoped to achieve thanks also to the push of Tourism. In reality, the scenario had already emerged during the work of the Forum of the South “Antonio Serra”, held in Cosenza. The South and Calabria are clinging to this comeback attempt but have to deal with some knots to solve. First, the lack of policies for the South. There is no central government-level vision for the South and Calabria. But even our political representatives do little to try to imagine a future for our land. If the idea that the Mezzogiorno can grow is not changed, the country-system will never start. But there’s more, the South and Calabria must become a point of reference within the Mediterranean».
The Pnrr bogged down
Algieri exposes the verb of the managers concerned by a management of funds which, so far, is an empty tomb. We need clear rules for the Pnrr, but there aren’t any yet. Our economy is a fundamental part of the national product. But, unfortunately, in the South, and I’m not just talking about Calabria, there isn’t a single city that has presented a project with the Pnrr and completed it. It’s not chatter but it’s data coming out of our Forum. And when I speak of southern cities I am also referring to the most important ones such as Naples, Bari and Palermo. What will happen to the Pnrr? And what will be its impact on Calabria and the rest of the South? There is a lot of confusion. Also in terms of investments which will have to be reviewed by Rome. Unfortunately, all this generates a great deal of confusion. But our politicians, both those in government and those who, on the other hand, are in opposition, are not clear on the reality of the facts. And this is where the “intermediate bodies” come into play. In Calabria there are private ones and those with structures, such as Confcommercio, as are trade unions, agricultural organizations and other categories, which must come up with serious proposals. The work of the “intermediate bodies” is fundamental because it helps politics to guide it outside the perimeter of mediocrity”.
The wedge sinks the economy
Tax pressure bites into the foundations of our world, bending the resilience of businesses and consumers. The leader of Confcommercio from Calabria indicates new trajectories to secure the regional economy, starting precisely from structural interventions: «Cutting the wedge is fundamental. Especially in Calabria. Pressure is incompatible with any growth prospects. It is evident that it represents a real urgency, especially in the South. And it is a real emergency in the world of work. Incomes are stable. Think of the tertiary sector, for example: 80% of employment contracts have not been renewed. And in the South it is heavier. Contracts need to be renewed, adjusted because there is a huge tax wedge and wages are essential for consumption. And I say this as an entrepreneur: salaries must be increased. But we cannot increase them alone. We all have to work hard to cut the wedge.”
The mountain Algieri proudly displays access to the gold mine where he discovered the new vein capable of generating wealth by putting the mountain territories into production. «In recent months, I launched the idea of Zem, the mountain economic zones. It was a proposal appreciated nationally, by Confcommercio, by Coldiretti, by the chamber system, by parliamentary groups. And yet, from here, from Calabria, the place where the idea started. Absolute silence, beyond some mayors. The Zem will lead to the enhancement and consolidation of economic activities already present in the area (trade, agro-food-forest supply chain, tourism, etc.) and to the attraction and creation of new businesses and research centers on biodiversity and sustainable economy in close collaboration with the universities. Through the transition from “facilitated taxation to dedicated taxation”, they will make it possible to put a stop to demographic decline and the aging of the population in mountain municipalities and to attract young people. Therefore, through them it will be possible to create an alternative to the urban polarization of the population and the flight of human capital towards the centers of the North, supported by an incisive training activity and active labor policies. So, we are here, but politics is silent. And it is not only the responsibility of the central government. The responsibilities also lie with the Region which could start the Zem with Por funds. A model that has already been tested in Umbria and that has mountain municipalities as its recipients. It would be a question of foreseeing interventions that give priority to investments (national and foreign) related to the green transition to protect the environmental heritage of the mountains while guaranteeing its development and to the digital transition in order to overcome the “infrastructural and natural barriers”.
Year zero tourism
Algieri closes his horizon tour by returning to his Ithaca, Tourism that Calabria must become a structured resource. “There is a lot of confusion. Tourism for many is the hotelier. But is not so. Tourism is the synthesis of the hospitality system that begins with those who meet at the petrol station and continues with restaurateurs, hoteliers, museums which must also remain open on Saturdays and, above all, on Sundays. And you must not neglect the streets, maintain cleanliness and decorum. Is there a tourism project in Calabria? I do not think so. But a synergistic action is needed. We need the commitment of the Region, of the intermediate bodies, of the entrepreneurs. Everyone must do their part. Otherwise, next year we will go back to repeating the same things, facing the same problems. There is no vision. We need a strong government policy, above all we need a culture of tourism which, unfortunately, does not exist in Calabria».