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Moroccan taxes and labor help prop up Italian economy

ROME: A study by the Leone Moressa Foundation, comparing the taxes paid by the 5.26 million migrants in Italy, has claimed immigrants provide a net benefit to the economy of €500 million ($587 million) per year.

Foreign workers in Italy produce 9.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), with their taxes worth €18 billion per annum — a figure that would be higher if revenues from undeclared work could be taken into account.

Data showed that immigrants from Morocco in particular possessed an “outstanding enterprise attitude” and “give remarkable financial resources to their host country.”

Moroccans are currently the largest non-EU immigrant community in Italy, mainly living in the northern regions of Lombardy, Piedmont and Emilia Romagna.

It is an economically active community — 20 percent of the Moroccan community in Italy are entrepreneurs. Many others are doctors, who have been active in Italian hospitals to combat the coronavirus disease.

“Figures show that the immigrants’ presence in Italy is a very productive one. The total of the taxes they pay covers the €3.3 billion spent on caring for migrants in reception centers after they arrive on boats from Africa, processing their asylum claims and offering them social-integration training,” Rossella Muroni, a member of the Italian Parliament from the Liberi e Uguali (Freedom and Equality) party told Arab News.

“That’s a good answer to those who accuse the immigrants of coming here only to steal jobs from Italians. The truth is that those who come here work to live. They support their families back home, of course, but they contribute to the national economy in a significant way too,” Muroni added. “Demographics tell us that it will be them who pay for the pensions of elderly Italians.”

Foreigners living legally in Italy make up 8.7 percent of the population. Romanians are the largest group, followed by Albanians, Moroccans and Chinese. All together they paid the state €26.6 billion in taxes in 2018, mostly while working low-paid jobs. The survey did not include illegal migrants, thought to number about 600,000.

An Italian government amnesty offer of a work permit has so far been answered by 220,000 illegal immigrants. Most of them were domestic cleaners, but many worked in the fields during and right after the country’s recent lockdown, saving this year’s harvest. 

“If they start paying taxes it will mean another €360 million a year for the state,” Enrico Di Pasquale, a researcher at the Leone Moressa Foundation, said.

In the past few days Italy has given the green light for 18,000 more non-EU seasonal workers to enter the country.  Requests can be sent online via the Italian Interior Ministry website until Dec. 3. 

The country’s largest farming association, Coldiretti, said the measure “is important for the work in the fields in the autumn, when harvesting is in full force; many farms are at risk of finding themselves without enough workers at the busiest time of the year for grapes, olives and fruit.”

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