Italy’s finance minister slams central bank silence on ‘Superbonus’ scheme

ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s economy minister on Friday criticised the country’s central bank as well as the European Central Bank (ECB) for not opposing costly tax credits on energy saving home improvements adopted by previous administrations.

The government is concerned that a future accounting ruling linked to these incentives by the EU’s statistics arm Eurostat could push up next year’s fiscal deficit, making Rome’s position vulnerable as the bloc negotiates to revamp its fiscal rules.

Critics say the so-called “Superbonus” scheme, adopted in 2020 and extended under Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s predecessor Mario Draghi, resulted in money creation since it allowed taxpayers to claim 110 euros ($120.13) in return for every 100 spent on energy saving work.

“Everyone here was tacitly complicit. Did you hear the ECB or the Bank of Italy say ‘you are creating money here’?”, Economy Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti said at a festival hosted by Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party.

Meloni has already acted to curtail the programme, whose cost has inflated the country’s fiscal deficits over the last three years.

But Eurostat may decide the impact of the tax credits should be shifted to 2024 and beyond, revising down deficits for the years when EU limits were suspended due to the COVID-pandemic and increasing them when updated fiscal rules return.

The take-up of the Superbonus is still hitting Italian state coffers and is expected to top 100 billion euros by the end of this year, Giorgetti said.

“The superbonus is like a nuclear power plant that continues to emit radioactivity,” he added.

($1 = 0.9157 euros)

(Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte and Angelo Amante; editing by Christina Fincher)