Revitalization decree, not just FCA and Atlantia. Reverse Robin Hood in the food industry

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Covid-19, revitalization decree. FCA and Atlantia have monopolized (also) the attention of the press. But the Italian government has also moved like Robin Hood in reverse in the food sector, under the silence of the mainstream media.

Soda tax and Plastic tax

Nearly €200 million – an amount equal to the increase in the ‘emergency food aid fund‘ introduced by the Relaunch Decree (from €50 million to €250 million) – is being burned, in 2020 alone, due to the postponement to 1.1.21 of
Soda Tax
e
Plastic Tax
.

The ‘burdens arising from this article‘ are ‘estimated at €199.1 million for the year 2020, €120.4 million for the year 2021 and €42.2 million for the year 2023‘ (DL 34/20, Art. 133.2).

Stealing from the poor to give to the rich. Coca-Cola, Ferrero and other giants celebrate yet another success. Both taxes had already been postponed, from 1.1.20 to 1.10.20, through the conversion of the 2020 budget decree into Law No. 27.12.19. 160. With a loss then estimated at least 175 million euros.

Sugary drinks and single-use plastic items, half a billion bonus

Junk food sales, during the pandemic, likely increased. In fact, 44 percent of the 2,900 respondents in the recent CREA (Council for Agricultural Research) survey say they consumed more comfort foods and sweets during the quarantine. (2) And the market for single-use plastic items has in turn gone strong, partly because of their systematic use to package take-out food and drinks.

However, both sectors have obtained a bonus of more than half a billion euros in the past 6 months. € 535 million, according to official estimates, including € 360 million in the revitalization decree alone. But why is 360 million being taken from state coffers and diverted to two of the very few sectors that have increased sales during the emergency?

The defeats of the public good

From a constitutional point of view, the referral of Soda Tax and Plastic Tax is inadmissible. Precisely because no reason of urgency exists (nor is indicated), which is the sine qua non for such a measure – of derogation from a law of the Italian Parliament – to be adopted through a decree law. In essence,

the Soda Tax has the express purpose of inducing consumers to prefer water and unsweetened beverages over sugary drinks. For a public health need, countering the epidemic of obesity and overweight, diabetes and related diseases(Non-Communicable Diseases, NCDs. 3,4). Where already in the pre-Covid era, according to thelatest Eurispes report on Italians’ lifestyles, 1 in 3 minors is affected by obesity and overweight,

the Plastic Tax, on the other hand, aims to reduce the use of single-use plastic items. Where 75 percent of the waste in the sea, according to ISPRA’s latest report, is precisely plastic materials. The residues of which, in the form of microplastics, also leach into the air and have also become part of the food chain, posing serious health risks.

The Italian Parliament has the next word. To whom should the 360 million euros at stake be allocated?

Dario Dongo

Notes

(1) Decree Law May 19, 2020, no. 34. Urgent measures on health, labor and economic support, and social policies related to the epidemiological emergency from COVID-19. See also.
Dario Dongo. Relaunch decree, what’s new for the agribusiness sector. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 5/20/20, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/mercati/decreto-rilancio-le-novità-per-il-settore-agroalimentare
Dario Dongo, Alessandra Mei. Covid-19 and relaunch decree, measures aimed at workers and families. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 5/26/20, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/mercati/covid-19-e-decreto-rilancio-misure-rivolte-a-lavoratori-e-famiglie
(2) Sabrina Bergamini. Food habits, quarantined more fruits, vegetables and sweets. Now the diet kicks in. Help Consumers. 5/27/20, https://www.helpconsumatori.it/tendenze/abitudini-alimentari-in-quarantena-piu-frutta-verdura-e-dolci-ora-scatta-la-dieta/
(3) Dario Dongo, Carlotta Suardi. Orangeades, Italy’s double sugar ration. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 7/17/18, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/salute/aranciate-in-italia-doppia-razione-di-zucchero
(4) A cohort study, published on 6.5.20 in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), offers further confirmation on the effectiveness of the Soda Tax introduced in Mexico in 2014. Luz María Sánchez-Romero, Francisco Canto-Osorio,
Romina González-Morales, M Arantxa Colchero, Shu-Wen Ng, Paula Ramírez-Palacios, Jorge Salmerón, Tonatiuh Barrientos-Gutiérrez. (2020). Association between tax on sugar sweetened beverages and soft drink consumption in adults in Mexico: open cohort longitudinal analysis of Health Workers Cohort Study. BMJ 2020; 369 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m1311