The Ministry of Treasury, known today as the MEF (Ministry of Economy and Finance), is the institution that, among others, safeguards national savings. National savings bonds are sold on the financial market and then all the financial institutions carry out their functions. Article 47 of the Italian Constitution states that "the Republic encourages and safeguards savings in all its forms". The MEF has a central role in the economic relationship between the State and the citizens. Indeed, the MEF carries out the public functions and duties of the State in terms of economic, financial and budget policy, public investment planning, coordination and control of public spending, and through these it verifies revenue policies and tax system, state property and patrimony, land rates and customs. Moreover, it plans, coordinates and verifies initiatives for economic, territorial and industrial development and cohesion policies. In addition, the Ministry watches over public institutions as well as oversees activities and functions carried out by control authorities as required by law (Lgls. D. 300/99, Art. 23, Par. 2).
There have been several Italian Ministries of Economy over time that can be summarized as follows: the Ministry of Finance (1861 - 2001), the Treasury (1877-1922, 1944-1947, 1947-2001), the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning (1947-1996) and the Ministry of State Ownership (1956-1993).
Hence, the current MEF is the result of a long harmonisation process (both an internal one and due to circumstances beyond its control) commencing in 1947 with the creation of the Ministry of Budget, as a Ministry without portfolio, headed by Luigi Einaudi. Afterwards, it became the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning with Law no. 48 of 27/2/1967, which operated in parallel with other two ministries: the Treasury and the Ministry of Finance.
After the unsuccessful experience of economic planning in the 1970s and 1980s, Law no. 468 of 5/8/1978 combined economic planning with budget planning. All legislation approved from 1967 up to the 1990s did not clarify the role of the Ministry, given that the competencies had become increasingly complex.
Therefore, by the late 1990s, as there was an urgent need to integrate economic planning with that of budget, both for national coherence and to be in line with European standards, a decision was made to set up a single economic policy body.
With Law no. 94 of 3/4/1997, the Treasury and the Ministry of Economic Planning became one. This new layout satisfied the parameters of the Maastricht Treaty and those of public financial objectives. Furthermore, other roles were assigned to this Ministry: that of economic development, reducing unemployment, territorial re-equilibrium, increasing the capacity to be competitive, and the efficient management of public finance and public debt.
In the context of defining a financial and economic policy common to all European countries, and from the perspective of a greater involvement of competent subjects at an industrial and territorial level, the Ministry defined the choices of economic and financial policies conjugating State budgeting and management with the objectives of financial re-equilibrium and convergence with the other European countries, for economic growth and social cohesion as defined in the Maastricht Treaty.
Following Law no. 94, the Ministry was reorganised by following a departmental model, firstly with Law no. 430 of 5/12/1997 and then with two Presidential decrees: no. 38 of 20/2/1998 and no. 154 of 28/4/1998.
The Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) as it is today was instituted with Law. No. 300/1999 issued pursuant to Law no. 57/1999 (also known as the Bassanini Law). All the functions of the Ministry of Treasure, Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, except those conferred to regions, local and public authorities, were transferred to it.
Two other departments were added to the General Direction of the Treasury (DT) and the General State Accounting (RGS): the Department of General Administration, Personnel and Treasury services (DAG), and the Department of Finance (DF).
The organic and integrated use of the functional areas to which duties about homogenous subject areas and the relative instrumental duties are given - included those which deal with addressing and coordinating management units, those which deal with the management and organisation of instrumental, financial and human resources - is held by departments.
Today, the MEF carries out a role in the following areas:
1. Economic and financial policy, particularly with respect to the analysis of economic and monetary issues, national and international financial issues, vigilance over the financial market and the credit system, elaboration of economic and financial planning, hedging operations of financial need and management of public debt, management of stock participations of the State, including stockholder rights and alienation of government stocks.
2. Budget policies, processes and implementation, in particular with the preparation and management of the State budget, including treasury implementation and verification of the relative trends and cash flow. In addiction, the MEF ensures the operative link with those dealing with the planning of financial requirements and the hedging operations of financial need, the auditing of burdens that derive from the measures, from the normative innovations and the monitoring of public spending. It carries out the controls scheduled from the ordinance.
3. Economic and financial planning, coordination and auditing of the economical and territorial development, also through the chambers of commerce, with particular reference to all depressed areas, according to the role given to the Ministry by law on negotiable planning and use of European structural funds.
4. Finance with particular reference to the functions set out in Law no. 300/1999, art. 56, regarding the analysis of the fiscal system, decisions regarding tax and treasury compliance (national, international and EEC), the coordinating activities, vigilance and control activities of the informative and fiscal systems, the function set by law about government property, land register and building register.
5. General administration, personnel and ministerial services with respect to the promotion, coordination and development of processes and the organisation and management of resources; treasury services and general departmental services of the State; and the management of resources needed for the tax commission activities.
Lastly, the operative functions of financial administration are assigned to four fiscal offices: the Tax Office, which deals with internal revenue; the Territorial Office, which deals with landed property and registry issues; the Government Property Office, which deals with the management and protection of government property; and the Customs Office.
Editor: Rocco CICIRETTI
© 2009 ASSONEBB