Sardinia – let’s stop the criminal decisions (*) and change direction
Let me help you discover Sardinia. I know many of you already know about this country. Many of you have been there at least one time; others have a house there; and, like myself, some of you come from Sardinia. However, I would like to show you this unique land using a different and provocative perspective: that of a foreign investor. Believe me, Sardinia is to buy! It is like a company that has an excellent product (I’ll talk later about that), great market opportunities and employees with extraordinary skills, who can ensure high quality across a broad range of offers and deliveries. The only problem is its management. In the recent past (I’d say 70 years, a lifetime), the management has never given satisfactory answers, designed a vision, formulated a valid and honest strategy or created lasting wealth. In my father’s library, there was an entire shelf filled with dozens of books concerning la Rinascita della Sardegna, the Sardinian Renaissance; these books were written by all kinds of politicians in good or in bad faith.
Actually, the management has never been able to forge a positive path toward the future, foster education and research, secure opportunities for the young generations and, last but not least, provide strong protection for the vulnerable and weakest sections of the population. Thinking of it this way shows that this created an ideal situation for a takeover. There is a good product system that fits with various market segments, good craft skills and—as clearly shown—bad management. It would be possible to change the management and invest new capital to get extraordinary returns in a short time.
I know there are several good objections to this point of view: Sardinia is not a company (correct); it is not on sale (maybe, I’m not sure); Sardinia belongs to Italy and thus must follow the national and EU rules and laws (unluckily); ‘the management’ has been changed so often, always with the same bad results; ‘the management’ is not free but has rigid and miscellaneous constraints; etc.
These objections are undoubtedly correct. However, as I said, let me be provocative and lead you to my vision. The undisputed facts are as follow. Sardinia has 1.6 million inhabitants according to the 2011 census (2.8% of the Italian population). The local GDP is declining each year (2013: – 3,8%; 2014 forecasted: – 2%; 2014 actual: – 4,8%; 2015 forecasted: – 0,4%). Unemployment in 2014 was ~18%; in the first quarter of 2015, unemployment was 19,5%, and youth unemployment was over 50%. The total number of enterprises in Sardinia is ~ 140,000, which is very low. The country has a negative trade balance of ~ 105 million euros and the banks have non-performing loans of ~ 19% (“Da rimarcare l’andamento del valore delle sofferenze che riprendono a crescere portandosi nel primo e nel secondo trimestre 2014 rispettivamente sul +20% e +19%”). The number of families in complete destitution is 57,000, which represents ~ 180,000 inhabitants, or over 10% of the entire population. Etc. If you analise this situation objectively, you can see that we are faced with ‘a completo sfacelo’ (complete degradation, disrepair).
Now for the good news. Sardinia is an island (I know that it goes without saying, but it is an important element to take into consideration). Its ‘balance sheet’ is extremely positive in terms of natural assets, archaeological and artistic sites and cultural treasures. The “Sardinia” brand is not well known, but it has a great potential because it is strong and uncontaminated. Our historical approach is pacific (we were colonised, and we didn’t go around colonising other populations). Our love of beauty (especially nell’artigianato e nel folklore, in the craft industry and folklore) is undisputable. Last but not least, Sardinia has only 1.6 million of inhabitants, which is the dimension of a district of Hong Kong. I present these figures to give you the right view of the things – Sardinian features and dimension can be handled easily to promote a dramatic change (unlike Italy, btw, which has 60 million inhabitants, a different history and features, and so many and growing constraints).
Note that I’m not advocating separatism or dreaming of a sort of historical revenge. I’m only describing a clear situation in analytic terms. I haven’t mentioned an important element of the context, an issue that substantiates my vision: the collapse of Italy. I don’t want to list all the information that we are bombarded with each day about the situation of Italy and its widespread and endless corruption—this is not the right place. However, the collapse of Italy (which is an acceleration of its dramatic decline and has to be seen not only in financial terms, but also ethic, political and cultural) is clear to everyone—and everyone is so scared that generally removes this picture.
My vision about Sardinian future represents nothing more than a dream that I had (a vision is often the child of intense mental activity, and it often materialises like a dream, it is true) and of which I already wrote: I dreamt I was in some future. Sardinia was again a nineteenth-century-like land, no longer linked with Italy, which had collapsed after proving unable to keep all the regions linked under a single government. Sardinia was silent and alone, forgotten in the middle of the Tyrrhenian Sea. “The partridges will come again,” my brother-in-law said happily. And I woke up with this thought: the partridges will come again.
I believe it is possible to change Sardinian destiny, I’m sure, especially if we change our mindset. Let’s start designing a new path and new strategy based on culture and education (I’ll say it again because I believe it is the only way: culture and education), and kick out all the corrupt and incompetent politicians – sooner or later we have to vote! Let’s find pragmatic solutions and act without empty ideological discussions. Let us not be dragged down by the Italian State, which doesn’t want to grow and become mature. And let’s take the first step forward with the help di tutti gli uomini di buona volontà – ce ne sono più di quanti si voglia far credere.
You will see—the partridges will come again!
(*) For example, the decision to store nuclear waste in Sardinia. We are dead tired to be the dustbin of the Italian government. It is time to say NO!