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Unformatted text preview: utonomy on expenditure decisions. At the same time Act 59 and, even more, its implementation decree n.112/99
consider not only the competencies that the Constitution had attributed to the central or regional level but deal also with
the devolution of functions to "functional autonomies" (for examples Universities), to municipalities or to the private
sector with the idea of completely redefining the public sector, in order to identify the entity best able to offer a public
service both through decentralisation and privatisation.
In the 1990s, the criteria for managing local public services were modified by the introduction of market-oriented
principles. New forms of production were provided for, with the constitution of special companies, third party
concessions, and the institution of mixed private-public companies. Most local utilities are now incorporated and the
entire sector is undergoing a process of privatisation.
The administrative reform consists also of a series of other acts, approved during the nineties, which introduced
simplification and organizational procedures, reorganized the central government, introduced a new personnel
management system and reformed the budget process. The aim was to achieve a long overdue modernisation of the
P.A., which had been characterised by inefficiency ever since the birth of the democratic State. New instruments for
governance have been introduced, linked to the development of strong institutional partnerships, both horizontal and
vertical, social partnerships, and the implementation of administrative models inspired by the principles of New Public
Management. Contracts signed by both parties (Intese Istituzionali di programma) regulate the joint action of the central
and regional governments on investment expenditures, initiating a cooperative approach to territorial development where
central and regional governments have the same decision-making power and pool their resources to achieve an agreed
Though on the expenditure side, within the framework of the current Constitution, the Italian State is far more
decentralized than it used to be in the seventies and the Regions in particular are acquiring more and more 249 Commission on Fiscal Imbalance competencies and decision-making power on a significant number of funds, the level of decentralisation on the revenue
side has proceeded more slowly, and it is only lately (mainly since 1997) that the issue of fiscal decentralisation has
been put forward. At first it was a political stance and only later did it become a matter to be discussed in order to build a
coherent governance model which gives careful consideration to the cost and benefits of such a new model both from a
national and regional perspective.
During the last five years words like federalism, fiscal autonomy and devolution have become part of the political jargon,
very often losing their original meaning. All political parties have accepted or even strongly supported as flagships such
words, sometimes without clarifying, either...
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