In response to the point of order raised by MP Francesco Barbato at the Finance Commission of the Chamber of Deputies concerning the alleged irregularities of the entertainment expenses incurred by Agenzia del Territorio, the undersecretary for the economy Vieri Ceriani outlined at the Finance Commission the observations formulated by the Agency itself. "The Agency - the statement reads - has been committed, ever since its foundation, to achieving innovation, digitalisation and efficiency, a task that has however highlighted two critical points. On the one hand, the poor perception with which this renovation has been seen from the outside, with the consequence that the Land Administration Agency continues to be regarded as an "old and dusty" administration; and on the other hand the scanty knowledge of property-related obligations to be met in connection with land registry and mortgage and, consequently, with taxation and the improvement of tax compliance.
Bearing this in mind, a specific and concrete action had to be taken to strengthen institutional communication and relations. This strategic design, which was coherent with the Agency guidelines set out by the minister, materialised in the various agreements the Ministry for the Economy and Finance signed as well as in the communication plans presented by the Agency itself.
Over the last three-year period, the Agency strongly focused on surveying property that had been left out of the land registry - the so-called "ghost properties" - and on other strong revenue content initiatives. While requiring significant means and human resources such action also relied on information campaigns specifically designed to encourage spontaneous compliance on the part of citizens with a view, consequently, to generating higher revenue from raised tax bases.
In line with the above guidelines, the Agency's institutional communication principally focused on the following areas: initiatives relating to the property sector that have been singled out on the bases of topics treated, presence of stakeholders, media impact and number of participants (Urban Promo, Eire, Cortina Incontra, ANCI - National Assembly, Salone della Giustizia, conferences and forums on property) and international relations with land administration and real estate advertising entities from other European countries, such as, for example, the annual workshop organised by WPLA (Working Party On Land Administration), a key organisation that, operating under UNECE, provides expertise in the area of land management with a special focus on projects aimed at strengthening and renovating land registries and property rights registration systems and on providing analyses of property markets within member states In this regard, the Agency points outs that the event was financed by external sponsors. Other initiatives involved campaigns aimed at informing citizens and real estate operators about the services provided by the Agency; action aimed at strengthening the Agency's identity and the web-based services it offers to citizens (including the overhaul of the website and a intensive press office activities); reconfiguration of the Agency's editorial products, with a special focus on the creation of a new international standard scientific review; publication of the operative Manual of property estimates; events marking the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy organised as part of the initiatives involving other public sector institutions and administrations and in cooperation with the other Agencies of the Inland Revenue.
In view of the commitments outlined above, it is but natural that the resources that have been designated to such activities increased. In this light, the Agency specifies that institutional communication initiatives that have been entered rose from € 550,000 in 2008 to 1,423,000 in 2011 (preliminary consolidated accounts).
As for the point of order in question, the Agency points out that entertainment costs have declined in the 2008-2010 period by approximately 43%, down from € 83,000 in 2008 to € 47,000 in 2010, an amount that has remained unchanged in the preliminary consolidated accounts for 2011.
The activities outlined above were carried out in compliance with existing laws and procedures," the statement concludes.