Trajectories and Consequences
Edited by John Wanna, Lotte Jensen and Jouke de Vries
Chapter 12: Budget Reform in Italy: Importing ‘Enlightened’ Ideas in a Difficult Context
12. Budget reform in Italy: importing ‘enlightened’ ideas in a difficult context Francesco Stolfi, Chiara Goretti and Luca Rizzuto Two parallel reform threads have characterized Italy’s path of budgetary reform: one affecting the procedures and documentation of the budget process; and the other the role and institutional strength of the executive and especially the central budgetary agencies. On the one hand, starting in the early 1960s, there have been successive waves of mandatory ‘enlightened’ reforms that have affected the budget process significantly, progressively modernizing the tools of economic policy. These statutes focused mainly on the parliamentary approval process while substantially neglecting the important games played within the executive itself. On the other hand, starting in the late 1980s and accelerating in the 1990s there has been a gradual empowerment of the executive vis-à-vis the parliament and in particular the central budget agency called the Ministero dell’ Economia e delle Finanze (Ministry of Economy and Finance or MEF). This reform process has strengthened the political executive, the core financial staff of the MEF, and the standing of the bureaucracy. The two threads are interconnected, but their different nature and paths followed makes it difficult to find immediate correspondences, with some notable exceptions such as the merger of the economic ministries in the 1990s. Statutory reforms have tended to be ‘big pushes’ initiated by a relatively limited number of reform-oriented experts. The strengthening of the executive and MEF, by contrast, has been a gradual process, reflecting the changing political context and...
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