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Simplification? Government on the right road. Hopefully. PDF Print E-mail
Apr 08, 2012 at 10:06 AM

Image Do I sound sceptical? Now why should that be? Probably because ever since I moved here several decades ago, I have always had the suspicion that somewhere in Italy, a small group of vecchietti (oldsters) were having regular meetings, probably in the unheated room of an abandoned castle, at which they tried to think of ways to torture their fellow Italians (and we non-Italian residents as well).

What most casual visitors cannot imagine, is how complicated most things are here in Italy. Here's an example. I recently lost my Italian health card, which you need if you want to deduct expenditures for pharmaceuticals or swee a doctor or have a treatment at a public hospital, and discovered that although the card is not an official ID card (no photo) there was absolutely no way to renew it by phone or on line. So off I go to the local IRS office (the card also has one's social security number on it, which is why the Italian IRS gets involved) and waited 45 minutes for my number to be called in, I must say, a very well-organized and friendly office, only to discover that all the clerk did was to look at my ID, write something into his computer, and tell me a new card will arrive by mail in some three weeks. Now why shouldn't I have been able to do that online, scanning my document and sending it by e-mail? Who knows.

To replace my Telepass card (you know, the card that goes with the gizmo that gets you through highway tolls without having to stop and pay), which disappeared at the same time, I had to say that it was lost, rather than in a wallet that had been stolen, otherwise I would have had to file a police report for a card I have never even used. Instead, "all" I had to do was to fill in a document downloaded from the internet in which I state on my honor that the card has been lost and which then has to be MAILED, together with a photo ID document, to the Telepass office in Florence so I can get a new card in four to six weeks. I should be grateful, because only a decade or so ago, I would have had to have gone to a notary public to get that "I lost my card" document authorized, so there have been improvements. But there are still all too many occasions here where you have to waste unnecessary time.

And what about what happens when a traffic ticket is delivered (yes, delivered, by a traffic policeman) to your door and you are not home. A card is left telling you to go to your local post office to pick up an important document. But when you get there, all they give you is another card telling you you have to go downtown to a city police office, which is open mornings but only one afternoon a week, where you pick up your ticket so you can then - andthat's the fourth step - go to the post office and pay it. Whew!

But I digress. A new bill passed by Parliament a few days ago, is designed to (finally) make many things easier. Here's a partial list.

• Hospital reservations will be made on line and patient charts will be downloaded over the internet;
• All public offices are to make online payments by credit card possible;
• The so-called DIA, with which one informs local authorities that a building or dwelling is to be renovated, no longer has to be backed up by official attestations by architects or surveyors;
• Residence changes are to be done on the spot, all certificates are to be available online, and from now on ID cards will expire on o
ne's birth date;
• University enrolments are to be done exclusively online;
• Applications for civil service exams are to be submitted exclusively via the Web;
• Hunting licenses will last six years instead of one;
• Bakeries will be allowed to bake fresh bread on Sunday mornings (don't ask);
• Vehicle safety and emission inspection will now be required every two years and no longer every year.


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