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The Robin Tax

Although Berlusconi is having his usual go at law enforcement organisations in Italy, other members of his government are doing some good.

As everyone knows, oil prices have been soaring recently, thus sending fuel prices sky rocketing, whereas salaries have remained more or less static. The increase in the cost of living has hit those on low incomes quite hard, but the barons working in Italy’s oil industry have been laughing all the way to their banks. Well, they were laughing, until that is, Italy’s finance minister announced what has been baptised here as a ‘Robin Hood’ tax.

In effect, it is just that, a tax designed to take from the rich and give to the poor. And the rich in this case are those operating Italy’s oil companies. An extra six percent is to be added to the oil companies tax rate, and this will produce a windfall increase in tax income of around €800 million.

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What Italy’s government will then do is to distribute a part of this money, via a quaint system of anonymous pre-paid cards, to those unable to foot food and energy bills. It appears as though the old will be among the first to benefit from this new system.

All in all, this redistribution of income is not a bad idea.  It is a little surprising that it is coming via a right wing government.  Governments leaning towards the right are not generally known for helping out those in need.

However, Italy’s finance minister is not stopping with this tax, he is also proposing a few other changes, some of which are long overdue, such as trimming local government, and cutting the salaries of those in the management of public organisations by 25%. These are not popular moves, but at least they can be implemented now that Italy has a stable government.

All that can then be hoped is that all the extra cash filling the Italian government’s coffers will be used wisely, otherwise, the Robin tax could turn out to be a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

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