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Italian Infrastructure Plan Will Finally Include Messina Strait Bridge to Sicily

July 8, 2020 (EIRNS)—The Italian government has announced a giant infrastructure plan, listing 130 large and small projects involving railway, road, water, construction and other sectors. Notably, the high-speed rail connections will be completed and extended southwards to Calabria and to Sicily, putting the issue of the bridge over the Strait of Messina, connecting Sicily to the mainland, again on the table.

In order to allow all this, a major roadblock will be removed, represented by bureaucratic pro-environment and anti-corruption regulations that have made any investment impossible in Italy in the past decades. Such regulations will be suspended for one year, using the model of the new Genoa bridge, that was built in one year by bypassing such roadblocks.

On one side, the announcement is good because it means that the government must bow to the general demand for growth coming from productive sectors. However, it might all remain on the paper, as the government of Giuseppe Conte has a record of announcing things which eventually are not implemented. The same will occur to the new plan, if funds are not urgently made available.

Furthermore, Finance Minister Roberto Gualtieri said that concerning the Messina Bridge, a new feasibility study will be undertaken in order to slash costs. EIR sources familiar with the issue say that this condition has been demanded by the anti-progress Five Star faction. A new feasibility study is a complete waste of time and will only delay decisions, as demonstrated by the reviews of ongoing projects ordered by the Five Star figures in the previous government, all of which concluded that it would cost more to stop the work than to complete them.

The Conte government agenda is to stick to the EU regime, which means a scarcity of funds for investments. Conte in fact is planning to apply for ESM funds this year, as indicated by the fact that the latest government decree has allocated €36 billions for health system investments—exactly the amount Italy is entitled to draw from the ESM pandemic facility.

Infrastructure Minister Paola De Michelis said in a recent interview that the Conte infrastructure plan “provides for €200 billion investments in 15 years, and €130 billion are already allocated. We will ask for the rest from the EU when the Recovery Fund is ready.”

Former government official Ercole Incalza exposed this travesty, writing that “in the 2020 budget there are about €4 billions” and the €130 billion mentioned are included in the plans by the railway and road administrations, “but they are not ‘cash’ and therefore are not available.”

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