President Giovanna Ricuperati calls for reforms to boost development. Bonomi: early retirements and flat tax burn resources for growth.”

The car stays far away at the interchange parking lot. You can only get here by streetcar.

A consistent choice, that of Confindustria Bergamo, which starts with location (home of Bergamo’s electric tramways) and logistics (no private vehicles allowed) to communicate the theme of its annual meeting: sustainable competitiveness.

“The right place,” explains President – Giovanna Ricuperati, “to set out on this road.

Path that starts from solid positions because right here, where Covid hit hardest, an equally powerful reaction materialized. Leading the local economy to excel in the region in terms of output: average rebound of more than 13 percent from pre-pandemic levels, best figure among all Lombardy provinces.

Manufacturing that now faces a new scenario, full of uncertainties, which first and foremost calls for a new role for the European Union, “a natural hub for the management of major crises.” EU from which, however, a change of pace is demanded. In energy (“unacceptable to arrive after months at a price cap of 275 euros) as well as in choices toward a green future, to be achieved with a pragmatic and not ideological approach.

The new government, whose speed of installation as well as the novelty of a female leadership is appreciated, is asked to implement the NRP, “the only expansive maneuver we have, because it will not be subsidies and bonuses that will take the country into the future.”

Structural reforms to which must be added a broader reflection on the decline in the birth rate, which among its many negative effects leads in perspective to a reduction in the labor supply. A trend to be reversed with medium-term policies and urgent actions: reducing Neet and increasing female participation, but also working on immigration policies. Difficult, the latter, but obligatory to compensate for the gap. A policy that “in the interest of the country addresses and manages flows and origins with rigorous selection, training and integration.” Investing in schooling and training is thus a priority, while at the same time calling for a stop to contradictory policies: “how can we incentivize work and at the same time study new quotas every year to anticipate retirements?”

Structural issues that the Budget Law does not attack, “for lack of resources and courage,” neglecting investment and spending review. While the attention to balancing the accounts is appreciable, the maneuver offers only short-term coverage on energy and is insufficient in cutting the tax wedge.

On the business side, the course is summed up in the assembly’s title, with green paths now becoming a must in order to win in the world. Bergamo is also being called for a step forward.

Relaunching attractiveness through new narratives and enhancement of strengths, with the opportunity of the Capital of Culture 2023 to be exploited to the fullest, just as a chance for development can be the new rail link between the city and Orio al Serio airport. And then innovation, energy, supply chain initiatives, bringing out specializations capable of making the area recognizable in the world and thus attracting investment, innovation and training.

Sustainable competitiveness, however, also means training and growing human resources, retaining them in the company with new rules of engagement, “even beyond the albeit rightful reflections on pay, time and space.”

But the most delicate point is that of governance, initiating paths of M&A, opening up capital, entry of managerial and external figures in the boards of directors. Remembering that “it is not traitorous who gives in, just as it is not foreign who buys or takes over: what matters to us is the relationship and the link between territory and enterprise.” The invitation to businesses is therefore to continue on a path, that of improving themselves while having future generations at heart. To leave them not a burden but a project.

A project that for Confindustria President Carlo Bonomi the new Budget Law possesses only in part. While – he explains to the Bergamasque industrialists – the willingness to fight the expensive energy by putting most of the resources here (21 billion out of 35) is positive, some questions arise about the “after”, taking into account that these funds are enough to deal with the emergency only until March and that the extra revenue that the Draghi government has been able to count on in the past, the result of the 2021 and 2022 GDP growth, will almost certainly not be there.

Lacking, however, is a more decisive cut in the tax wedge, as well as a willingness to reconfigure a minimal part of public spending. “The 16 billion we are asking for in terms of cuts would give more than 1,200 euros more to workers, and to do this it would be enough to reconfigure 4-5 percent of public spending: the resources are there but courage is needed.”

Also rejected by Bonomi were measures leading to bringing forward the retirement age or providing a larger area for the flat tax for the self-employed. “A measure, the latter, which has already led some employees to ask to switch to a VAT number due to more favorable taxation, a situation that we cannot accept: measures like these burn resources that instead, used elsewhere, would be functional for the country’s growth.”

And to pay for these measures,” Bonomi concludes, “looking at the cuts made so far, once again it will be us, that is, businesses.