Italy’s finance minister tightens grip on top job appointments in state-backed companies

The move underscores the efforts of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing government to reduce the role of unelected senior technicians who wield power behind the scenes.

A number of senior positions will be up for grabs in the coming weeks, including seats on the boards of state-controlled energy groups ENI and Enel, bailed-out bank MPS and defense group Leonardo.

The selection of presidents and CEOs of public companies is a complex procedure, in which the influential Treasury Department within the Ministry of Economy has traditionally had a say.

A draft of the directive seen by Reuters showed that Giorgetti, a career politician from the co-leading League party, wanted to handle appointment procedures with his closest aides.

Under the new arrangements, the Treasury Department will have to provide Giorgetti, through its direct staff, with a list of all expiring positions, while also posting them on the department’s website.

In addition, the directive stresses that the ministry must screen potential candidates on the basis of indications received from the minister.

In a bid to stamp their mark on key positions within the state bureaucracy, Giorgetti and Meloni ousted powerful Treasury director general Alessandro Rivera this month, appointing the economist veteran Riccardo Barbieri.

Giorgetti is currently drafting a plan to split the Treasury into two units, creating a department to manage public companies.

Separate sources said Meloni’s office was pushing to appoint ITA Airways chairman Antonino Turicchi, a former treasury official historically close to Italy’s right-wing bloc, as director general of the newly created department.

However, the nomination process in Italy has traditionally been the subject of intense political bargaining due to its size and importance. Talks are usually on the wire and can change unexpectedly.

Last year, Turicchi was named by government officials as Meloni’s preferred candidate to replace Rivera, before the economy minister proposed Barbieri.

Giorgetti must also decide by the end of February whether to confirm or dismiss key Treasury officials responsible for managing, among other things, European relations, financial regulation and state intervention in the economy, such as public guarantees. on bank loans.

(Editing by Keith Weir)

By Giuseppe Fonte

Leave a Reply