Draghi continues Italy’s reform drive with new spending watchdog

Mario Draghi’s government has set up a watchdog to oversee Italy’s ambitious €248 billion reform programme, including how billions of euros of pandemic relief money are spent in the European Union, and introduced a set of measures aimed at curbing bureaucracy and speeding infrastructure development.

The new “technical secretariat”, which will report to the prime minister’s office, will remain in place for five years and is one of several governance bodies set up by Draghi’s National Unity Alliance to oversee spending of €205 billion in grants and loans to the European Union’s coronavirus recovery fund bloc.

The commission was formed by a decision of the Council of Ministers. By bypassing the life of the alliance, whose term should expire before 2023 at the latest after Italy’s next general election, it will reduce uncertainty over the reform program once the former European Central Bank chief steps down as prime minister.

Draghi was asked to form an emergency government in February after Italy’s last administration collapsed. He is not expected to continue as prime minister after the upcoming elections.

Dragy Told legislators In April, the “fate” of the eurozone’s third-largest economy and its “credibility and reputation” as the EU’s founder depended on the success of the reforms. These goals aim to relaunch an economy that has not only been hit by the pandemic, but has barely grown in real terms since the turn of the millennium.

Italy is set to receive one of the largest shares of the European Union’s 750 billion euro Recovery and Resilience Plan, which was launched last year to help member states recover from the pandemic. Other funding for the reform program will come from the state budget.

Since taking office, Draghi Announce plans To reform the country’s sluggish bureaucracy and legal systems, invest EU funds in infrastructure projects, climate and environmental initiatives, and digitize the economy, education and health.

Rome has promised the European Commission that it will put in place governance mechanisms to monitor its spending plans before the EU funds open, the first of which is expected to be disbursed to Italy this summer.

And the same decree, approved by the Italian Cabinet on Friday evening, established a mechanism for the Ministry of Finance to regularly update the Commission on the progress of reforms and investments. He also assigned the ministry new anti-corruption functions that will focus on fraud prevention and control of conflicts of interest.

The decree includes multiple measures to speed up public works, including the construction of high-speed rail. There will also be rewards and penalties for contractors based on how quickly they complete projects.

Other reforms include reducing the maximum time Italian authorities have to agree to install telecom infrastructure, from six months to 90 days, and measures to make it easier for companies implementing public contracts to hire subcontractors.

Draghi appointed a number of non-politicians to important positions in his government in a mixed government of technocrats and politicians from most of the country’s major parties.

Among them are close allies of Draghi, such as Economy Minister Daniele Franco, former First Deputy Governor of the Bank of Italy, and Minister of Technological Innovation and Digital Transition Vittorio Colao, former CEO of Vodafone.

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