Italian SME group points to suicides

Italian SME group points to suicides

ROME - Agence France-Presse
Italian SME group points to suicides

People walk past the Unicredit bank headquarters in Rome. 23 Italian businessmen committed suicide this year. AP photo.

Amid Italy’s biting economic crisis, 23 entrepreneurs have committed suicide so far this year, a small-business association said on April 14.

Nine suicides were reported in Veneto, the northeastern region where the Italian General Confederation of Artisan Firms (CGIA) is based. There were three suicides each in Puglia, Tuscany and Sicily and another five elsewhere.

“These suicides are real cries of alarm by those who can’t take it anymore,” the group’s secretary general Giuseppe Bortolussi was quoted as saying by Italian media.

“Taxes, charges, bureaucracy, lack of credit and late payments have created a hostile climate that penalizes entrepreneurs. Many see suicide as an act of rebellion against a deaf and insensitive system that fails to grasp the seriousness of the situation.” According to latest data from Italy’s national statistics institute, 3,048 people committed suicide in 2010 against 2,986 the previous year. Suicides linked to economic factors numbered 187 in 2010, against 198 in 2009.

In recent weeks Italian media have focused on economic pain as business owners weighed down with debt have closed up shop and people joined the ranks of the unemployed, with joblessness at a record 9.3 percent in February.

Italy was shocked by the case last month of a bricklayer in the northern city of Bologna who self-immolated and died after nine days of agony, after being accused of tax evasion.

Italy’s economy entered recession in the second half of last year, shrinking by 0.2 percent in the third quarter and 0.7 percent in the fourth. It is expected to contract further this year despite austerity measures and structural reforms aimed at liberalizing the economy and boosting growth.