Tragedy is a relative concept. Some would call it a tragedy that, while Italy makes some of the most desirable (and gas-guzzling) cars on the market, it also has some of the highest fuel prices in Europe. But that unfortunate reality is far overshadowed by the two earthquakes that have struck the country's Emilia-Romagna region, killing 24 people in total. Now the fledgling government tasked with steering the troubled country into financial health is forced to raise fuel taxes even higher to relieve the aftermath of the disasters.

The move, recently approved by the government cabinet of Prime Minister Mario Monti (pictured above), will raise the price of gasoline by another two euro-cents per liter, further entrenching its dubious position holding the third highest prices in the world. Gas prices currently exceed the European average and the equivalent of $9.35 per gallon, representing over nine percent of daily income that Italians have to pay at the pump. Coupled with public funds previously earmarked towards combating Italy's rising deficit – currently the second largest in Europe – and freed up by Monti's government in a recent spending constriction, the cash brought from the fuel-tax increase will go towards relief efforts.

What remains unclear, however, is how Italians will continue paying such high tax rates when the disasters have, according to lobby group Coldiretti, cost farmers over 500 million euros (U.S. $621 million at current exchange rates), and manufacturers several hundred million more, according to Confindustria, the employers' union formerly headed by Ferrari president, former Fiat chairman and potential future premiership candidate Luca di Montezemolo.

Ferrari's was one of several automotive factories that temporarily ceased operations in the wake of the disaster, allowing its workers to tend to their own families. The Maranello-based company has since reopened its factory and is organizing a charity auction to help with the disaster-relief efforts.


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  • 20 Comments
      paulwesterberg
      • 4 Months Ago
      Tax evasion is a national pastime in Italy, gas taxes may be one of the more reliable ways for the government to raise revenue.
      markkiernan
      • 4 Months Ago
      As someone who lives in Italy, I can tell you that this will stay. Hell, the government under Monti (supported by both the left and right in parlament) put 20 cents on petrol just last year and while people complained I still see Ferraris every other day and large SUVs (BMW, Porsche etc).
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 4 Months Ago
      You just watch. It won't go down.
        markkiernan
        • 4 Months Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        Nobody stopped buying gas when they put 20 cent on it last year. As someone who uses my car extensively for work, I have to pay.
      Levine Levine
      • 4 Months Ago
      Since the end of WWII, the Italian government has been a socialist government. Big and powerful labor unions have ruled the day ...and night. Raising taxes is the government's way of funding many social programs. The so called Earth Quake relief fund is just another excuse to raise taxes. The Italian's are not so stupid that they can't smell the difference between the pasta and the bastards.
        markkiernan
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Levine Levine
        Perhaps you should do some research before spewing such rubbish. Since when have Christian Democrats being socialist? As someone who has lived in Italy for a number of years I can tell you that Italy has had little of anything representing a socialist government. Italy in general is quite conservative, and even when the communist party existed it was much more centre than many other left wings parties in the rest of Europe. All governments from left, centre and even the extreme right wing have used any excuse to raise taxes.
      DarylMc
      • 4 Months Ago
      "$9.35 per gallon" Doesn't make a large SUV look attractive. In fact makes a bicycle look very attractive.
      GR
      • 4 Months Ago
      I wonder how fuel-efficient/how many EVs and PHEVs America would have if our gas taxes raised prices to $9 a gallon!!! (assuming it was raised over time, of course)
        markkiernan
        • 4 Months Ago
        @GR
        My next car is this: http://www.renault-ze.com/it-it/gamma-z.e./zoe/renault-zoe-life-765.html&gclid=CLT6trmTr7ACFYZJ3god0x32Tg
        mylexicon
        • 4 Months Ago
        @GR
        You don't have to wonder. Look at Europe. They've had high taxes for decades to control balance of trade. Europe developed public transit, which has slowly killed their automobile industry (aside from Germany who learned to sell in the US), thus auto alternative technology. Furthermore, European public transit has had little consequence for global mobility. Global population density is either too low or capital requirements are too high. The unintended consequences of negative reinforcement are difficult to predict. People are often scared of negative reinforcement; therefore, their actions to avoid negative reinforcement are often unpredictable or unreasonable. If you need proof, intern with your local tax preparation office. In general, it is better to move people in the desired direction with incentives, while adhering to the concept of artificially stimulated competition. Without competition, the government-approved winners rapidly degenerate into losers.
      Andrew Richard Rose
      • 4 Months Ago
      I hope he enjoys his Lobster Dinner at Bilderberg this weekend !
      throwback
      • 4 Months Ago
      So will they drop the tax after some period of time, since it is just for this particular natural disaster relief?
        DaveMart
        • 4 Months Ago
        @throwback
        Ha-ha! Good one!
          DarylMc
          • 4 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          Thanks marcopolo I already copied and pasted those authors into the diary to have a look when I'm wondering which book to read next. Sorry to hijack your post DaveMart.
          Marco Polo
          • 4 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          Hi Daryl, Several of the disc world books have been made into telemovies. I discovered Terry Pratchett's books as 'talking books' (often narrated by Nigel Planner) during my late wife's terminal illness. I have all the books, movies and recordings. My daughter has catalogued them and retained her interest in Terry Pratchett's works. I also recommend the 'Flashman' series by George Macdonald Frazer, great fun, and a good insight into history.
          DarylMc
          • 4 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          Hi marco polo I just finished the first one but since there are so many I might have to join a library:) Started reading it with something in mind to getting my 12yo son into reading a bit more. Quite a bit of fun. And I just realised Going Postal TV movie was one of his stories. I've not read the book but it's quite good if you've never seen it.
          marcopolo
          • 4 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          DarylMc Daryl, I have read all the books by Sir Terry Pratchett ! I am a huge fan of his work. Three years ago I was fortunate enough to meet Terry Pratchett and was saddened to learn of his ill health. A real living literary treasure in the mold of the late Douglas Addams and George Macdonald Frazer. Have you read "the Truth" ?
          DarylMc
          • 4 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          DaveMart Off topic and a bit personal. I wonder if you have read any Terry Pratchett Diskworld . I just finished "The Colour of Magic" and wonder if anyone else here has read it. Because you know, you get quite a picture in your head of the people you interact with here. And I'm thinking you have read it. Good imagination, witty humour......
      Peter
      • 4 Months Ago
      The piper has to be paid somehow and if not now then later. While few wants taxes they do want potholes paved. Luckily only California is in the ridiculous position of not being able to raise funds to pay for police, and other 'big government wastes of money' (TM). If you believe in the environment and the free market having the consumer pay the full cost of the road infrastructure through gas tax gives natural incentive for fuel economy rather than having the Chinese subsidize pickups for those who don't need them through the National Debt.
      Marco Polo
      • 4 Months Ago
      Well, I can't speck for Italy, but in the State of Victoria, Australia, in 1990 the Labour government imposed a 3 cent levy on gasoline taxes to pay for it's disastrous guarantee to a failed financial institution. This levy was abolished by the incoming Conservative government 5 years later, having fulfilled it purpose. But, I think it's right to be cynical, governments of all persuasions hate repealing sources of easy revenue !
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