Zes Unica, the concerns of Unindustria Calabria. Ferrara: «Potential critical issues for small businesses»

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By John

«The transition from the eight SEZs to the new SEZ model for the South suffered a last-minute postponement precisely in the phase of expiration of all the Commissioners. The failure to transfer tasks and functions from the eight extraordinary Commissioners to the new centralized mission structure therefore required an urgent measure to extend the current extraordinary Commissioners until 1 March. The times for finalizing the extension provision, however, caused a significant discontinuity in the timing of the services conferences and in the issuing of investment authorizations. A circumstance which alone is enough to highlight the complexity of the matter and fuel uncertainties regarding the fluidity of the transition and the implementation of the new model”.

It starts like this, in a note, Aldo Ferrara, president of Unindustria Calabriaaddressing a topic on which industrialists have been extremely vigilant for some time: «For months – he explains -, we have reiterated how an orderly and gradual handover of deliveries is necessary, addressing in time some potential critical issues of the new Zes model which risk weakening the validity of the tool and its usefulness, especially in Calabria”.

Ferrara’s analysis starts from the socio-economic context in which the SEZs were born: «The South travels at a reduced speed compared to the rest of the country. The Calabrian SEZ, with its added value determined by the bureaucratic simplification for the start-up of production facilities, thanks to the powers assigned to the Commissioner, and by the system of tax incentives, was proving to be a useful tool to make our region attractive for internal investments and external. The strong concern now is that the new model makes the advantages more nuanced, especially in terms of simplification and fluidity of authorizations, so much so as to make the Zes unattractive due to a management system that centralizes relationships and reduces the link with the territory. And in this sense, the minimum limit of 200 thousand euros placed on the amount of investments in the SEZ area is also worrying: the entrepreneurial fabric, especially the local one, is mainly made up of small businesses that would be willing to invest in the SEZ, but that limit it keeps you out of a concrete opportunity, thus limiting its potential for growth and development. This is also in consideration of the disappearance of the tax credit for investments in the South”.

«Then there is a critical issue raised by local administrators – adds the president of the Calabrian Industrialists -: how will the urban planning tools planned by the Municipalities be reconciled if the whole of Southern Italy is a SEZ area? Will planning exemptions be granted everywhere? Here too, clarity is needed. Just as clarity is needed on the resources for the single SEZ, which currently appear inadequate to cover the needs of the territories. Not only that, while it is expected to provide them “on tap”, the application forms are still missing and the deadline for submitting applications expires on November 15th: in these conditions it is impossible to plan investments and plan new settlements”.

«The attractiveness of the SEZ in Calabria is, then, a function of investments in interoperability, services, environment, waste collection and above all safety in industrial areas: without a welcoming ecosystem, companies, given the same advantages obtained from the SEZ, will not choose certainly our region for new production facilities. To this end, we hope for the prompt creation of the regional Agency which will replace CORAP and the immediate start of the redevelopment of the industrial areas”, he continues.
«Finally – concludes Ferrara –, the previous model had begun to bear fruit also thanks to the close synergy between Commissioner Zes and the social partners. The new model does not provide for the involvement of employers’ associations or trade unions in the control room of the Zes, widening the gap between companies, territory and workers. We hope that this, which is a real flaw in the management model of the new single SEZ, will be remedied, through the formal and substantial involvement of the social partners. The future of our region is at stake.”