Italy remained silent about Port Authorities taxes
Following the expiration of the exchange with Brussels on August the 31st, the Ministry did not take any action, while the person in charge of ports (Coletta) got into trouble due to the Morandi Bridge collapse
“Although it was not mandatory as it is not an infringement procedure yet, on August the 31st the term to provide a reply to Brussels expired, but I do not know whether the Ministry replied or not”, Assoporti president Zeno D'Agostino explained referring to the initiative taken by the DG Competition of the European Committee to clarify the tax position of Italian Port Authorities and their exemption from the payment of company taxes related to income arising from the collection of concession fees.
Since then, the Port Authorities Association has been trying to convince Brussels that said taxes are not due. From the last report of the Court of Auditors about the activity of the Port Authority of Taranto it emerged that the body had to set aside a reserve of over 6 million euro for a dispute – Port Authority president Sergio Prete explained – that the Revenue Agency brought before the Court of Cassation because all the tax commissions involved had rejected the claim to regard (for tax purposes) the fees collected by the Authority between 1997 and 2003 for the concessions granted as land incomes.
“Despite the finance law issued in 2007 providing that Port Authorities must be regarded as non-economic public bodies, and regardless of the adverse rulings of the Court of Cassation concerning other Revenue Agency issues, we have an absurd dispute between two State entities”, D'Agostino pointed out.
According to the president of the port of Trieste, this is as paradoxical as Brussels' claims about taxation of concession fees: “We took action immediately and, also thanks to our attendance at ESPO, we collected historical and legal documents also related to other countries. We have also been cooperating with the Ministry of Infrastructures and Transports which, however, is the only body appointed for exchanges with Brussels. We are waiting for the summons that the conference of Port Authorities presidents requested a long time ago”.
This could be a further cause of trouble in the tense relation with Brussels, with negative consequences for Port Authorities and, in turn, for economic operators working in Italian ports. Despite its transparency measures, the Ministry of Infrastructures and Transports remained silent. In fact, the representative of the Directorate general for the supervision of port authorities Mauro Coletta must be worried about something else: in his capacity as head of the supervisory structure for highway concessionaires (from 2012 to mid-2017), his name (according to the newspaper Il Corriere della Sera) was included in the list provided by the Italian Finance Police to the Public Prosecutor's office of Genoa and it was registered in the roll of suspects in the investigation concerning the collapse of the Morandi bridge.
“Trieste has nothing to do with Uirnet's EIB loan”
As concerns the Morandi bridge disaster and its waste, the president of the port of Trieste Zeno D'Agostino made clear that the Port Authority of Trieste did not enter into any agreement with Uirnet related to a loan requested by the latter to the EIB. The document with which the company submitted its project (that in the meanwhile was approved by the current Government) to the European Investment Bank referred to the key role of the ports of Trieste and Genoa, explaining that the light infrastructures object of the loan “will be used in the areas belonging to the State under the protection of the Port Authority”.