Italian Ministry of Infrastructures and Transports to give it another try with maritime Local Public Transport
An agreement was reached with Regions concerning the decree which is supposed to unfreeze the 262 million allocated in 2017: new resources will allow the co-financing of local bodies (reduced to 15%) and ensure reversibility
On August the 1st, the Italian State-Regions Conference reached an agreement about a ministerial decree draft submitted by the Ministry of Infrastructures and Transports to amend the one which, in 2018, had set out the rules to use the 262 million euro allocated for the renewal of the maritime fleets used for Local Public Transport services.
Said funds have not been used yet, and from the Conference’s ruling at least two reasons for this emerged. The first one is based on the Regions’ finances because, when the 2018 decree provided for their 25% co-financing of the amount granted to them for investments in vessel, “they referred to the difficulties in the application of the Ministerial Decree 52/18 with regards to the guarantee of the co-financing imposed on them”.
The other difficulty related to the 2018 decree concerns the reversibility obligation. In fact, the MD 52 allowed Regions to grant the co-financing also through “companies providing local maritime, lake, lagoon and river public transport services”. However, local bodied pointed out that, “if it is granted through resources provided by the shipowners currently supplying the service”, the co-financing “can cause procedural difficulties related to the naval units reversibility obligation in favour of the competent Region”.
According to the Regions, the MD 52/2018 would have allowed the shipping companies involved (a few months ago the Sicilian Region had drawn up a plan in cooperation with Caronte&Tourist) to acquire the final ownership of units purchased with state money by 3/4.
This gave rise to the amendment decree, which, however, poses several problems, in particular concerning the quantum of the available resources. Undersecretary Michele Dell’Orco referred to 250 million euro for the 2020-2030 period, “in addition” to the 262 million of the 2017-2030 period, but the provision is not clear. The “financial” reference concerns a general 250 million euro refinancing (decreed by the 2018 Stability Law) of the infrastructure development fund for Italy, from which also the MD 52 drew resources.
Its incipit is identical to that of the new decree: “This decree sets out the methods and procedures to use the resources of the Fund intended for the direct purchase, or for the purchase through specialized companies, or for the charter of units used for local and regional public transport”. While the MD 52 added “amounting to Euro 262,648,951.00 for the 2017-2030 period”, the current decree reads “amounting to Euro 250,000,000.00 for the 2020-2030 period”, but at paragraph 2 it refers to the MD 52 as if its resources were another matter.
Therefore, it is not clear whether there is an overlap, and to what extent, or if it is an additional sum altogether. The preambles refer to a decree of the Italian Ministry of the Economy and Finances of 2019 which “recorded” the 250 million “in the balance sheet” as “additional resources […] to cover supply costs related to the naval units provided for in the Ministerial Decree n. 52/18 to be borne by Regions and/or shipowners”. Article 5 explains that “the distribution of the resources referred to in the Decree 19405/19 of the Ministry of the Economy and Finances is carried out according to the terms specified in Annex 1 to this Decree. The resources referred to in Annex 1 may finance a single program together with the resources already allocated with the MD 52/18”.
Unfortunately, both the decree of the Ministry of the Economy and Finances and its Annex are unavailable.
In any case, the new decree provides for a reduction of the regional co-financing percentage to 15%, establishing that for it Regions can use the 250 million share only if they own the purchased ships. As concerns reversibility, the decree specifies that “naval units, equipment and installations purchased by local public transport service suppliers are subject to reversibility obligations and to obligations concerning their intended use for regional public transport services of the competent local body”.
Within 40 days from the entry into force, Regions must “submit the necessary preliminary documents for the preparation of insolvency proceedings” concerning the Ministry of Infrastructures and Transports for the purchase of the units, without prejudice to the possibility on the local bodies’ part to derogate and “carry out single insolvency proceedings independently”.