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CMO WINE: submitting 3 mandatory estimates for each activity is creating chaos and paralyzing the system

Many have asked the Ministry of Agriculture for explanations, but the response is peremptory/ final: it is mandatory, even for consolidated relationships...
CAOS, cmo wine, contracts, WINE, News
CMO Wine Promotion: bureaucracy paralyzes the system (photo: wayhomestudio on Freepik)

Italian wine exports grew 56% from 2013 to 2022, jumping from just over 5 billion euros to almost 8 billion euros. Merit goes to +16% on European markets, but mainly to doubling the amount on non-EU markets. The significant growth was due to the efforts of wine companies and their investments that the CMO Wine co-financed, between 2014 and 2022, for 722.9 million euros. The funds were a very important deciding measure for companies, and as an expenditure item, second only to vineyard restructuring, over the same period of time, totaling 1.095 billion euros, and even higher than investments, totaling 534 million euros (ISMEA data). But, in Italy, the National CMO Wine tender notice, from which the Regional ones then derive, has always been published much later than other countries, and has always included new bureaucratic difficulties. Now, among other things, the obligation to submit 3 estimates for each activity to be carried out is creating chaos and paralyzing the system, as many professionals have pointed out, even if the activity is carried out with a partner consolidated over time, such as, for instance, an importer or a distributor.
But let’s proceed in chronological order. This year, the call for tenders came out on July 21, 2023, and the deadline to present projects was initially set for 13 September 13th, then extended to September18th. The deadlines were very tight, and moreover, in a time period when part of companies’ staff were on holiday, plus their mindset was primarily to the harvest. As the Minister of Agriculture, Francesco Lollobrigida, explained to WineNews, “there are burdensome mechanisms that we wanted to fix, because the Government is the only one responsible to Europe, to manage funds, so if the Regions make mistakes, then the Government pays. This is why we had to find a solution, if not on the methods of selecting projects to be financed, at least on the controls, to avoid problems and wasting resources. We will ensure that AGEA will be able to make all payments by October”. But as far as burdens to be eliminated are concerned, apparently, things didn't go very well. As we mentioned, according to specialized professionals and companies, one of the new measures introduced is creating enormous problems; that is, it is mandatory for each activity of the project presented to attach 3 estimates or the declaration of a qualified third party, certifying the impossibility to identify other competing entities capable of providing the services and/or products proposed, penalty the projects would not be accepted. This measure is paralyzing the work of and creating enormous difficulties to the companies and those who assist them. The companies, despite having worked for years with a specific importer on leading markets, find that they now have to ask for quotes from other companies, through a procedure that is not only complicated, but evidently, also risks undermining consolidated relationships between business partners. However, this is what the tender provides, as the response to one of the many FAQs about the measures in the tender notice has explained.
For instance, to a specific question, formulated as follows: “Regarding the notice for presenting CMO projects in 2023-2024, art. 6, point G indicates that "for each activity of the project, 3 estimates or the declaration of a qualified third party must be attached in which it is attested that it is not possible to identify other competing entities capable of providing the services and/or products proposed”, we kindly ask you to clarify what is meant by qualified third party”, the Ministry's response is peremptory. “The comparable estimates to be presented”, the response reads, “should support identification of the costs the project has foreseen. Therefore, without prejudice to the obligation to submit three estimates for the costs relating to each activity the project has envisaged, it is specified that the declaration of the qualified third party can only be made if there are no longer competing subjects capable of providing the services and /or proposed products. Therefore, in the event that it is not possible to resort to the market, because the costs are determined by an entity that has exclusivity (Fair), or there is a monopoly regime or similar situation, a qualified entity can be asked to declare it. In the event there are multiple parties that can offer the service, the declaration of the third party cannot be submitted, but the three estimates must be requested. By qualified third party we mean an independent professional, preferably registered in a professional register consistent with the type of activity in relation to which the party is called upon to issue the certificate. Or, a third party and independent party, in possession of proven and documented professional experience in carrying out this activity”. And, the answer is the same to another question regarding the three estimates. To those who asked: “if these are suppliers with whom the proposing entity has a constant and consolidated relationship that guarantees the best result and proof of this is provided (referring to projects already carried out), can the supplier be chosen without requesting three estimates?”, the response is, “the proposing parties are required to submit three comparable estimates for each of the project activities. See the answer to question number 1”. And the responses are similar to many other questions on the subject.
In other words, it is a sort of inextricable "Gordian knot”, which instead of simplifying the lives of businesses and strengthening the relationship of trust between business and the State, vital and necessary for growth and managing public resources, risks profoundly undermining the effectiveness of a fundamental tool for the growth of Italian wine abroad. For instance, co-financing (at a maximum of 50%, ed.), companies promoting investments that are burdened with something complicated to manage and difficult to explain, perhaps, to historic and fundamental partners on the markets. Consequently, there is a potential boomerang effect that, perhaps in the rooms of bureaucracy, often light years away from those of the real market, has been underestimated.
Recently, WineNews tried to ask Oreste Gerini, head of the General Directorate for Agri-food Quality of the Ministry of Agriculture and signatory of the Decree, his opinion on the matter. He did not< offer one, emphasizing only that the topic is being examined by the Ministry and perhaps some news could be forthcoming in the next few days.

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