An article by: Editorial board

The “father” of social economics Stefano Zamagni explains in an interview that “tax breaks are not enough, and civil society must be able to sit at institutional tables”

Co-programming, cultural revolution, and a social stock market: three fundamental points for the development of the third sector in the long term

A stock exchange for social issues and recognition of the third sector alongside the government and the market. Economist, former President of the Third Sector Agency and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences Stefano Zamagni, in an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della sera, explains the structural interventions needed to enable non-profit organizations to have a greater impact at the political and decision-making levels.

Cutting taxes is important, but not enough. The Budget Law has a serious flaw, as the “father of social economics” explains, meaning that it is drawn up year after year, therefore designed for the short term, whereas it is in the medium and long term that the “third sector” should impose itself. “Ordinary laws, not the budget law.” There are three fundamental points: collaborative programming, cultural revolution, and social exchange, Zamagni explains.

Completing the NPO qualification with the 2017 reform has been difficult for many associations, but the RUNTS (Unified Registry of the Third Sector) registry operating in Italy would have provided even greater benefits if it were not for the objective bureaucratic difficulties. “There needs to be a simplification,” explains Zamagni, “there is a problem with Europe that has essentially been saying for some time: if you Italians cut taxes on non-profit organizations, you would open the door to the possible unfair competition on the side of profit. A theory with some truth on paper, but it does not take into account Italian reality.”

It is essential that the third sector takes on a role not of policy supporters, but of policy decision-makers, along with institutions: “Taxes are important, but they are nothing compared to the fact that the third sector should be able to sit at the table with regions, administrations, government, not just as ‘service providers,’ but also ‘participate in decision-making’ regarding what and how to do.”

Along with the state and the market, according to Zamagni, there should be a third sector, but “the state and the market do not want to come to terms with the transition from a bipolar model, in which there is only them, to a tripolar model, with civil society inside.”

Other points that civil society should pay attention to are the increasing importance of non-profit economics in universities and economics departments, as well as the creation of a social stock exchange: “Creation in practice of a social business market. However, anyone who wants to invest money in the project can do so by purchasing shares, with the freedom to resell them. I would like someone to tell me whether there is even one reason not to do this. But there isn’t any.”

Giornalisti e Redattori di Pluralia

Editorial board