But there is another public debt that nobody talks about, because it’s not officially ‘public debt’ and because it is not due to investors but to different subjects, mainly Italian citizens and enterprises. Citizens which have credits with the Treasury. Enterprises which have signed, and executed, public procurement contracts. By Italian administrative practice, these subject are usually able to get their money only after years.
According to an estimate made by the ‘Il Sole 24 Ore’ financial newspaper, this debt amounts to 140 billion euros. A small sum compared to the official public debt, but still it could help people in reinvigorating consumption, and enterprises in making investments or simply avoid bankruptcy.
At the end of 2012, Italy adopted a EU Directive against delayed payments. Now, at least on paper, the Italian Civil Service is under an obligation to pay its dues no later than 60 days after the scheduled date of payment.
Many doubt that the new law will be enforced, however. The Italian bureaucracy is infamous for its slowness and resistance to change. Moreover, in times of austerity the various public Entities could simply not have the money to pay.