Official corruption siphons 60 billion euros out of government finances every year, according to a new report by the Italian audit court. That’s about $78.8 billion. Here are a few stats to put that into context:
• According to the IMF’s economic data, Italian corruption losses are larger than the national economy of Serbia, which it ranks 76th in the world at $78.7 billion.
• This new economy would be roughly equivalent to the GDP of Italy’s eastern neighbor, Croatia.
• In 2011, the Italian government spent $1.112 trillion and brought in $1.025 trillion, a gap it could close almost entirely by recovering estimated corruption losses for that year.
• Italian public debt is 120% of GDP, the eighth-highest in the world. It’s worth over $2.5 trillion.
• It could be even worse than that: In his excellent article on Italy’s culture of tax evasion, Anthony Faiola reported last year that “evaded taxes on legal commerce coupled with lost taxes from illicit or under-the- table deals are costing the national treasury about $340 billion a year.” This would rank the Italian “shadow economy” between the national GDPs of Austria and Ukraine.
• A proposed anti-corruption law “has languished in parliament for two years,” according to Reuters, but may now finally be headed for ratification. What’s the rush?