These are important issues and the international and Italian economic world deals with them with increasing interest and they are also the issues on which AEREC wanted to draw the attention of its members by means of qualified speeches chosen for the Academic Meeting that was held on April 29 last year at the prestigious “Sala del Cenacolo” of the Chamber of Deputies.
In front of a numerous audience formed by new and old academicians that came from all over Italy, some of the greatest experts on the issues in discussion took the floor and they were able to deal with issues of great relevance in the short time that their very busy schedule of meetings allowed them.
To introduce the speakers, there was the Master of Ceremonies, Giacinto Cavalieri, president of the Ancona District of AEREC, who, in his capacity of entrepreneur, wanted and knew how to counterpoint to the various speeches, with comments that underlined the validity of the speeches, comparing them to the reality of entrepreneurship that one lives on a daily basis, facing thousands of difficulties, but also with full awareness of the responsibility that the role of the entrepreneur entails.
The first person to take the floor was Dr. Rossella Ravagli, Head of Ethical Schemes BVQI Italy, which is a Certification Body. She was invited to explain the benefits of one of the most innovative and ethically correct standard that companies have got in recent years, namely the SA 8000 standard.
In the presentation about herself, Dr. Ravagli explained how she deals in particular with "the management tools of the social responsibility of companies within the organization to which she belongs. So we work on those tools that can be adopted by companies as a means of certification, operating according to an international standard."
"Today" she continued "we talk a lot in the business background about ' supportive globalization' and about 'sustainable internationalization'. One can speak well or ill about globalization, but we can all agree that globalization can and must be an engine of development and not an exploitation engine.
Unfortunately, in recent years there have been many situations in which companies, starting with those that have an impact on an international level - I think of some multinational companies such as Nike, Reebok and many others - have faced serious issues like that of 'the use in their factories located abroad of child labour or forced labour. There are aspects that in 2005 terrify us: Data shows that all over the world about 250 million children are working and that 20 million people are still subjected to forced labour.
Still, in 2004, there were millions of deaths caused by industrial accidents and there are 1.2 billion people who live on less than a dollar a day. It is obvious, therefore, that companies have a great social responsibility. Therefore, entrepreneurs that are more enlightened have begun for a few years to think about what they can do.
Companies have an important role, because among them there is the exigency of facing and integrating with the reality of other countries, developing their business abroad. How can we pursue these goals and at the same time not encourage forms of exploitation? Many companies acquire tools such as ethical codes, asking their suppliers, as well as their partners and in their establishments to observe the minimum requirements in line with international law and human rights. You can do business in countries that are in course of development, but this must be done in full observance of social responsibility. It is not enough to observe laws, because in some countries it is necessary to go beyond the laws, developing tools to allow us to confront with all our forces with the challenges of globalization, keeping in mind that in a purely economic framework, it was proved that companies adopting socially responsible practices are those that succeed best in confronting with the crises, because they have a high reputation, which is the true value of a company.
Working with the SA 2000 standard, which is an international standard, means working in parallel with those who have dealt for years with human rights, the rights of the worker. These are systems that allow companies to manage their risk. Because, if an entrepreneur decides to do business in a certain country, he must know which problems he may encounter. Therefore, he has the possibility of assessing risk, which will allow him to manage this latter maintaining his high reputation."
"The data on the certifications of companies," continued Dr. Ravagli "witnesses today an exponential increase. The European Community spoke very clearly about social responsibility, stressing the integration on a voluntary basis, by companies, of social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their relations with the various people who are interested. Therefore, today there are many companies and we are counting on the fact that there are increasingly more those which decided to get certified with the SA8000 standard, as well as those that have adopted ethical codes or tools that should demonstrate - not only as a matter of image but as a basis - credibility and transparency.“
Dr. Massimiliano Magni, Head of the Project Management Department of “Sistema Servizi SpA” shall illustrate Legislative Decree No. 196 of June 30 2003, which is called "Personal Data Protection Code”.
"The purpose of the law" began Dr. Magni - "represents the observance of law and of fundamental freedom through the protection of privacy and of personal identity. The reference legislation is the Privacy Code that entered into force on the 1st of January 2004 and which replaces 675/1996 and its subsequent amendments.
To frame the new code, it will be useful, primarily, to start from the term that is most used, namely the "treatment". By treatment one understands the operation that is performed on the data, as well as their recovery, their storage or their transfer. A basic rule stipulated by the law is that: if we collect data, we have to inform the person who supplies it on the type of treatment that the data will undergo, if we wanted to treat them in different ways, we have to inform those directly affected in this respect."
"There are different types of treatment like the collection of curriculum and of information concerning people, the registration of billing data, the consultation of archives in hard copies as well, the processing, the data communication to other bodies, everyone, in any case, fully underlying very specific obligations. The law stipulates general obligations of security, saying that holders are bound to protect and control the data, and they are responsible as well for the implementation of minimum measures in order to minimize the risk of destruction, even accidental, of the data."
The final part of Dr. Massimiliano Magni’ speech was about the minimum measures provided for at Article 33 "those that are necessary to observe what is required to us and to secure our data, all those measures aimed at ensuring a minimal level of protection of data against the risks of destruction, loss, manipulation etc."
The new frontiers of the relations between banks and users was the strong theme that was addressed, but not without a certain 'vis' polemic by Prof. Francesco Petrino, Professor of Banking Law and Director of the Monetary Sovereignty Department of the “Uniglobus di Assisi”, President of the Law Studies Centre of SNARP and member of the European Academy for Economic and Cultural Relations.
"Over the past ten years, there has been a great change in the rules on banks and users, and mainly in favour of users. They changed in the sense that they were perceived and implemented, because the problem has never been that of making jurisprudence, as this has never automatically allowed to obtain the benefits which one is entitled to and that, in order to be achieved they still frequently require the intervention of the court. About ten years ago, I gave up teaching at the university to create a National Anti-Usury Association for the Consumers’ Protection. With my partners and associates, I created a Centre for Studies and we made a series of proposals which became laws of the State and which today enable those entrepreneurs who undergo “accidents” along the route to be rehabilitated, to be able return to normal operations (I refer to the cancellation of rejections, the rehabilitation of the rejected credit applicants that until ten years ago were marked for life). In addition to that, we made rules so that the subscriptions to CAI, the Interbank Centre, should have their terms clearly defined."
"In particular, since 1993, with the new consolidated act of banking laws, there was stipulated that who had past relations with banks now has the opportunity to get a refund of significant percentages. Finally, a decision given by the Cassation replaced it last November and established the banking compound interest as being unlawful, which in the past five years of relations doubled the cost of the interests and that must be returned
"The ethical economy requires that banks, besides being speculative, should also take care of the causes and effects of their actions, because today there are verified syndromes resulting from debt, but in particular abuses of the banks regarding those that are in debt. This determines the onset of situations that sometimes leads to serious diseases, because the loss of immunity caused by nervous tension, submission, of conditioning can lead to congenital heart disease and even cancer; regarding these latter, our Association has identified about 150 cases for which we have to denounce some credit institutions for “manslaughter”.
"Finally, I will talk briefly about monetary sovereignty. In our country, until a few years ago, it was entrusted to the banks which, with the monetary issuance, held the gold reserves. When Bretton Wood’s agreement removed this type of guarantee for citizens (in theory, one could go to the Bank of Italy with one hundred thousand lire and receive the corresponding gold), today the banknote is nothing more than a bad cheque.
In our country, about three thousand billion of million Euros in banknotes are currently circulating, but it is incredible the fact these latter are not of the State, as many may think, because the Bank of Italy performs speculative activities; banks, therefore, have acquired the monetary sovereignty of citizens and lend at usurer rates printed scrap paper as currency, for which there is no counterpart in gold or otherwise. The big economic problem is the fact that our Gross Domestic Product can never cover the negative balance because of the debt of our country. For our part, as University of Assisi, we are launching a major campaign throughout Italy, together with Prof. Giacinto Auriti, Professor of Philosophy of Law and of Monetary Sovereignty in Teramo, whose student I was in the past, promoting awareness conferences for professionals, entrepreneurs and for the public opinion with regard to the need of reclaiming values. The Bank of Italy has to be a dealer, not the owner who afterwards requires governments to get into debt, mocking the sovereignty of people. Our politics is not working because our politicians did not understand that they were subjugated by the bank debt."
Allow me, therefore, to utter a final thought concerning savers. I think of the famous scams linked to the Cirio bonds, to the Parmalat bonds and Argentine bonds: in the past few days, we had the first convictions concerning the fact that it has been recognized and established that the banks knew and they did not say anything.
And I remind the entrepreneurs that in June it will enter into force in Italy “Basilea 2”, the European interbank agreement: for our system based on small and medium enterprises there will be a real disaster, because over 40% of the small enterprises will have to be excluded from credit and this will lead them to a sure closing! "
Prof. Petrino’s words, who hide in the controversy even provocative intents aimed at greater awareness from the part of the business operators concerning the tools that are placed at their disposal to pursue a sound business, inspired by the civil and social values, in which the profit could join solidarity and ethics, the very values on which the action of the European Academy for Economic and Cultural Relations is based and will be addressed again in other important events that will take place in the coming months.