Coronavirus disease 2019 is an unprecedented public health emergency, with associated significant economic impact, affecting all countries.
Governments have responded by adopting several policy actions aimed at enhancing health services and mitigating the effects of the COVID-19 emergency on the national economy.
On 31 January 2020, the Italian Council of Ministers declared a six- month state of emergency as a consequence of the health risk related to the Coronavirus outbreak. Indeed, COVID-19 has affected Italy in a severe manner.
In the latest months, all the players involved (Government, Civil Protection Department, Regions, Municipalities, Healthcare authorities etc.) have pursued two primary goals: i) rescue and assist the population potentially affected by the virus; ii) prevent the further spread of the virus. Such goals have been pursued through several batches of laws and decrees, that have reinforced healthcare response capacity, while imposing strict limits on free movement across the Country.
The outbreak of the virus has also affected the Italian economy, so that the Government has implemented several measures (the “Cure Italy Decree, the “Liquidity Decree” and the “Relaunch Decree”) aiming at speeding up the reboot of the economic system, as well as supporting the population in need and granting flexibility to the workforce.
Certain measures provided access to loan guarantees, technical assistance and increased liquidity support, working capital and trade finance. These measures include targeted temporary loan guarantees, temporary tax waivers (postponement of payment for direct tax, VAT, social security charges, regional or municipal tax surcharges, etc), temporary suspension of loan instalments, and the extension of loan maturities.
Other measures have expanded the reasons for access to the “Cassa Integrazione Ordinaria” (support of salary payment by the State), providing employers with the possibility to suspend or reduce work activity.
Whereas the virus and the consequent recovery package are expected to have a significant impact on public finance, the role of the Corte dei conti is being recognized as crucial to supporting the government response mechanisms through maintaining public financial management discipline and ensuring transparency and accountability.
Accordingly, the Corte dei conti has implemented a new organizational setup in order to ensure the continuity of its activities and has carried out its institutional duties all along the lockdown phase, continuing to support the players involved through its auditing and advisory activity, also under tight schedules.
At present, it intends to carry out a broad and varied program of work and it will undertake specific audits relating to certain measures adopted by the Government, public administration and entities, at central and regional level, to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. In this vein the Corte dei conti will strive to strengthen its support and its scrutiny on the topics that are most concerned by the emergency (e.g. healthcare, recovery measures), also in a view to ensure that the newly injected resources are as fruitful as possible and that their use is compliant with their purpose.
The new funding could pave the way towards an increasingly sustainable economic model, in line with the debate triggered by the European Commission Reflection Paper “Towards a Sustainable Europe by 2030”.
Besides, it is worth recalling that the Covid-19 pandemic has boosted the deployment of IT technologies in public service. Accordingly, the Corte dei conti will enhance its scrutiny on the matter to assure the proper targeting and the fine-tuning of investments.
During these months, the Corte dei conti joined several initiatives to provide a prompt and effective response to Covid-19 pandemic crisis through online meetings and exchange of best practices and strategies to ensure accountability and transparency in pre- and post-emergency stages.
The Corte dei conti participates in
- “Auditing the Response to the Covid-19 pandemic” of the EUROSAI Project Group
- “Strategic Role of SAIs in Addressing Challenges Posed by the Covid-19 Pandemic" under the INTOSAI Committee on Emerging Issues (SCEI) in connection with the INTOSAI Policy, Finance, and Administration Committee (PFAC) initiative on Covid-19.
- Working Group on SDGs and Key Sustainable Development Indicators (WGSDGKSDI) of INTOSAI which addressed to its members a specific Covid related discussion.
- “Adapting justice systems to the COVID-19 pandemic and the potential impact on the right to a fair trial”, launched by the Network of Superior Courts of the European Court of Human Rights.
Our first reports Covid-19 related
At the end of March, the Corte dei conti issued a report on the Law Decree N. 18/2020 regarding the Measures to strengthen the national health service and provide economic support to families, workers and undertakings related to the Covid-19 pandemic emergency.
On May, 29 the the Corte dei conti published the Report on the Coordination of Public Finance. The report has deeply analysed the macroeconomic framework with regard to COVID-19 crisis.
On June, 24 the Corte dei conti presented to the Parliament the Annual Report on the State Budget. Many sections of the Report analyse several measures adopted by the Italian Government to tackle the Covid-19 emergency.
In addition, during this period of crisis, the Corte dei conti has carried out ex-ante compliance audits on administrative measures adopted following the COVID-19 Decrees, for example the ones regarding State loan guarantees.