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Random Reminders

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Italy’s public finances are in a mess.  The credit crisis is causing problems too, and Italy’s government is introducing various measures to help its less fortunate citizens and businesses through the worst.

Owing to the poor state of Italy’s coffers, Italy cannot afford to dish out too much, but perhaps Italy could do a better job of collecting the monies owed to state institutions, which might just help fill the Italian state’s dire finances.

For reasons unknown, Italy’s authorities seem to be allergic to sending out reminders.  Indeed, reminders seems to be a distinctly rare commodity in Italy.  To illustrate this, we have recently been hit with a bill, and a fine, for not having paid a trash collection bill from a few years back.  The thing is we were never notified that anything was owed.  And I know very well that this semi-Italian family is not alone in finding this aspect of Italy frustrating.

Not Just Us in Milan

Cadorna, Milan

It just so happened that I was chatting to Pam Bates of Villa Sibillini the other day after someone contacted me to ask if I knew of any Britons he could talk to in connection with a programme being made for BBC Radio 4 on the Italian economy and labour costs.  The researcher had seen my post on setting up a restaurant in Italy, and wondered if I knew English people he could talk to about this.

Pam and David Bates immediately sprang to mind, so I asked Pam if she would mind talking to who I assumed to be a researcher.

It was while we were chewing the cud, so to speak, that Pam mentioned that she too has had problems with Italian authorities not sending out reminders.

Those running businesses in Italy, especially businesses which require special licences such as restaurants, have a million and one things to think about, and so bills can be overlooked.

A simple reminder from the authority concerned would help the bill payers, save local authority admin costs in the longer term, and ensure that cash-flow for local and national authorities remained more regular.

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Stop reading, start speaking

Stop translating in your head and start speaking Italian for real with the only audio course that prompt you to speak.

Why nothing is done to this end is beyond me.

Random Reminders

In Milan, for instance, you have to just about guess when your trash collection charge is due, and you will need to guess how much you need to pay, and more or less guess where it should be paid.  Reminders come one year, but not others.

It’s the same with the ICI property tax.  Reminders don’t ever seem to arrive, or our accountant tells us that the ICI payment is due.

For those without an accountant, heaven knows what happens.  I suppose you could waste a day or two visiting local authority offices, but what a waste of time and energy that would be, not to mention the loss of productivity due to having to take a number of mornings off work.

Council offices here are almost invariably  only open in the mornings, which makes matters yet more difficult.

Now I’ve really no idea if the Milan authorities are better or worse than other councils around Italy, but I suspect that the absence of reminders afflicts most of the Living Museum.  Very strange.

Regular Reminders

Back in the good old UK, where I once lived, reminders were sent out as regularly as clockwork, as no local authority worth its salt would miss out on its pound of flesh!  Not in Italy though, where the need for several pounds of flesh is growing almost daily.  Odd.

Why, oh Why?

The Milan council people seem to know where we live, and do send us the odd notification or two, such as to tell us to pay the school meals contributions, but other reminders are either non-existent or virtually random.

Would someone care to tell me why?  And can anyone confirm or deny that this situation is widespread in Italy?

At times Italy really is a funny old country.

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