The Housing Plan will make Italians richer?

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The Housing Plan will make Italians richer?

18 Marzo 2009


In a effort to revive Italian’s economy, President Berlusconi’s “Piano casa” (Housing plan) is a decree that, if approved, will establish a new set of rules regarding construction and urban planning.

Italians will be able to enlarge their existing homes by 20 percent and, in case their homes were built before 1989, by 30 percent. There is an additional 5 percent bonus that will be available only if the renewed apartment will be made with environmental friendly materials. For example: Say Mario Rossi (Average Joe) is the owner of a 100 square meters apartment and he wants to enlarge his property. As it is now, his chances to get a permission by the authorities are not many. In fact, the notorious Italian bureaucracy does not allow changes outside the “piano regolatore” (urban planning). Let alone the fact that many people would act regardless of the rules contained in the official city plan and build their stuff anyway, a switch in this matter, will – according to Berlusconi himself – “bring 60 millions in the pockets of Italians”.

With the new set of rules, Mario Rossi will be free to invest his money – making the building trade moving up and the unemployment moving down – to enlarge his own apartment. That will also mean an increase of his capital of course, given the fact that his newly enlarged home will now be worth more money on the market.  Even though this is just a theory, it sounds promising. Berlusconi now needs to reach an agreement with the President of Republic –Giorgio Napolitano and other major stake-holders such as the  head of “Confindustia” (Confederation of Italian Industry), Emma Marcegaglia, and the chairman of Bankitalia, Mario Draghi.

Yesterday, in fact, was a very busy day for our Premier since he met Napolitano for lunch. They say the two spoke about the house plan for two hours and reached a deal.

“I completely agreed with the Head of State”, said Berlusconi to the press yesterday night, at the end of the “Masaniello” comedy outside of the Teatro Quirino. “We are going to make a decree law or a addition to an already existing decree, then we are going to issue a new set of rules regarding the construction industry”.  

According to some well informed sources though, Giorgio Napolitano expressed his concerns during yesterday’s lunch with Il Cavaliere. The main issue would be constitutionality of the “Piano casa”, the Head of State is therefore worried about the consequences of such a “risky” decree. Many have doubts regarding the implementation of the bill and are afraid of possible humongous enlargements. Others have said that, with the new law, there will be non space for cheaters since it will only affect already existing buildings.

The other concern regards Regions and accountability. The “Piano casa” will in fact enable the central government to invade a field that usually belongs to Regions. In this case Napolitano argued that, since this is a matter of Regional authority, removing some obstacles doesn’t necessarily mean speeding-up the process of renewing and enlarging an house or an apartment.  

Napolitano, though, must be concerned with constitutional issues, since that is exactly what he is requested to do. Although, he agreed on the fundamental point: this is a very important matter and it is crucial to deal with it as soon as possible. Also, the decree is clearly a “popular” issue, many Italians seem to favor this proposal and that is understood.  

Some expected the “Piano casa” to be released in a matter of days, that did not happen. Napolitano has asked for a delay and the Pdl accepted. The next month will in fact be very busy  with the congresses of the main parties at the government (Pdl and An) to be held during the forthcoming week-ends. In this way “we’ll have enough time to schedule a preemptive consultation with the Regions” said a Minister the other day.

Berlusconi had a meeting with Emma Marcegaglia at Palazzo Chigi, two days ago. The two agreed on a common policy against the economic turmoil. The head of Confindustria, wanted the government to guarantee funds for what they call “Small and Medium Firms” (Pmi). The money  – we are talking about 1.3 bln euro – have been granted by Berlusconi’s cabinet. Some of them are already available, like incentives to buy new cars and vehicles, other will be available soon. What Marcegaglia wants though is “actual money for the Pmi to be invested” and that is exactly what Berlusconi is ready to offer in exchange of a compromise over the “Piano casa”.

The other ally for Il Cavaliere in this "adventure" is Mario Draghi, the Governor of Bankitalia. Draghi thinks that the plan could be a “good incentive for the economy of the country” but “granted that this [plan] will respect urban planning and the environment, we still don’t know its actual reach”.

Now, Draghi might be cautious, but Italians seem to like the idea of being able to enlarge their homes legally, even though they’ll have to wait for its approval.