Ten years have passed since administration was decentralised and several years since far-reaching constitutional reform defined regional government as the key to territorial development. Today it is essential we understand how our institutions can support and improve the quality of life of the 4.7 million people resident in the Veneto.
This system is adapting to the changing needs of its citizens, who are increasingly aware of the decision-making processes; consequently they ask public administration for information, transparency, participation and democracy. Hence, public institutions are changing their organisational logic, new players are participating in public life, new spending processes and reporting methods are being forged, and decision-making procedures are being streamlined.
To deal with this growing complexity, Regione Veneto has employed new knowledge tools, including a study in this edition of the statistics report which looks at how much and how the Region uses its resources, comparing it to other countries worldwide.
Competitiveness, the theme of this report, depends on an efficient tax and distribution system; consequently public administration must also strive for higher efficiency.
At the root of the economic imbalances between countries lie different tax systems, varying investments in public services, the generosity of the social transfer system, such as pensions and welfare benefit, in addition to different legislation systems and different ways of taxing social transfers.
Furthermore, devolution of greater financial autonomy to decentralised bodies has increased their power to act, but this power is still governed by restrictions that bar the way to full fiscal federalism. Financial flows to and from the State reveal a major regional imbalance, one which is particularly apparent when we look at the passive balance the citizens of the Veneto have with the State.
Major differences, however, also exist within how public administration is run. Indeed, we are pleased to say that Regione Veneto spends much less on public administration than other Italian regions, a hallmark which is due both to the support of local institutions and to a streamline system with a respectable ratio of civil servants to citizens.
President of Regione Veneto
Each year we look to the statistics report to answer the most pressing questions about the Veneto's society and economy. This report, now in its fourth edition, reveals that the Veneto is wrestling with a transition which is making it not only more European, but also a crossroads between the continent's more developed economies and those taking their first steps within an ever-expanding Europe.
We have reached this point after a complex journey that sought to reveal the most successful paths towards growth in a world that, although still firmly anchored to its roots, is ready to react positively to stimuli from its surroundings. The objectiveness of statistical data enables us to allay any doubts as to the meaning of our course and the propriety of our decisions. We are witnessing the unveiling of a system that runs on self-powered competitive logic; the signs are that individuals succeed because value has been assigned to their differences, businesses stay on the market, and products are more competitive, a hallmark based on an effective price-quality ratio and on innovative, efficient logistics systems.
Although traditional sectors are being reorganised, innovation has given impetus to businesses and is spreading throughout the Veneto; indeed, the internationalisation of enterprises through direct foreign investments is gaining ground on traditional forms of commercial penetration and enables businesses to settle and lay roots in outlet markets. Veneto products have also shifted towards market segments with higher added value and higher quality, i.e. those less vulnerable to competition from emerging markets. This structural transformation has led to the selection of companies, especially ones specialising in the production of capital and intermediate goods, which have been able to raise product quality. We have fostered these natural paths towards growth by promoting and supporting the Veneto's production system with regional legislation that encourages aggregation and cooperation between local production businesses. We are striving to turn clusters into hubs of innovation, high technology, and partnership in order to attract production capacity, all of which will strengthen the quality and competitiveness of system Veneto.
Our duty is to encourage competition through the quality of our social and economic system, especially in view of the results of this statistics report, which this year also takes a comparative, analytical look at the major levers of government. The results confirm that we must act on issues such as public finance systems, the efficiency of public administration, sustainable development, in particular in towns where most people live, and the rational use of energy resources. Only this way will we be able to sustain and develop a system that must continue grow free of undesirable imbalances.
Councillor for Economic, Developmental, Research and Innovation policies, and for Institutional policies
The Veneto is particularly effected by the constant changes within modern societies and economies as it is heavily conditioned by global phenomena. We have to adapt to these major changes by constantly improving territorial competitiveness, a multi-faceted quality based both on history and culture, as well as on an ability to organise, innovate and make full use of ever-dwindling resources.
The top priority of Regione Veneto must be to create plans and tools that support the competitiveness of our regional system; consequently we have taken this opportunity to move away from simply managing administration and to focus on analysing the local situation in order to identify strategies and objectives that will enable the right decisions to be made across the region.
A key part of this is ensuring that all the interested parties are involved in the decision-making processes. Problems are to be brought forward and discussed with those who are co-responsible for the territory's social and economic life because, today, it has become common practice to make joint decisions as a result of the experience accrued by implementing Community programmes.
Knowledge gained by analysing statistics is becoming an increasingly bigger part of regional programming. Our statistics report is an important planning tool as it provides a clear, detailed overview of the Veneto. It has revealed that the efficiency, effectiveness, economy and long-term sustainability of political and administrative policies can only be achieved by in-depth analysis and interpretation of the Veneto's economy and structure and how they compare with those of other countries.
This year, in view of the official launch of the Community programme, the Veneto has been given further impetus by a Competitiveness Forum, which aims to involve major economic players, institutions and human society in order to identify requirements, strategies and joint paths that will improve the global competitiveness of the region. The statistics report mirrors the main themes of the Forum. Initially these themes were research, innovation, university and enterprise knowledge systems, infrastructures and logistics, but a more detailed look will soon be taken at the services economy and the efficiency of the public administration.
As the main theme of this year's report is competitiveness, it focuses on the world economy, and on international competition in particular; on production sectors in order to identify innovative logic; on networks and logistics for business in order to improve system efficiency; and on the transformation of urban centres into metropolitan areas, a process which catalyses positive energy, yet encompasses a series of important issues that require attention. The report also concentrates on human capital and social cohesion as we believe that improved territorial competitiveness stems from developing individuals and erasing imbalances. This year, the comparisons section of the report not only takes its traditional look at how the Veneto fairs against its Italian and European competitors, but also looks at taxation and public administration. Energy is also covered because we need to work within national and European strategies in order to implement urgent measures to deal with dwindling resources and to improve energy efficiency.
Adriano Rasi Caldogno
Secretary General for Programming