Tragedy is a relative concept. Some would call it a tragedy that, while Italy makes some of the most desirable (and gas-guzzling) cars on the market, it also has some of the highest fuel prices in Europe. But that unfortunate reality is far overshadowed by the two earthquakes that have struck the country's Emilia-Romagna region, killing 24 people in total. Now the fledgling government tasked with steering the troubled country into financial health is forced to raise fuel taxes even higher to relieve the aftermath of the disasters.
The move, recently approved by the government cabinet of Prime Minister Mario Monti (pictured above), will raise the price of gasoline by another two euro-cents per liter, further entrenching its dubious position holding the third highest prices in the world. Gas prices currently exceed the European average and the equivalent of $9.35 per gallon, representing over nine percent of daily income that Italians have to pay at the pump. Coupled with public funds previously earmarked towards combating Italy's rising deficit – currently the second largest in Europe – and freed up by Monti's government in a recent spending constriction, the cash brought from the fuel-tax increase will go towards relief efforts.
What remains unclear, however, is how Italians will continue paying such high tax rates when the disasters have, according to lobby group Coldiretti, cost farmers over 500 million euros (U.S. $621 million at current exchange rates), and manufacturers several hundred million more, according to Confindustria, the employers' union formerly headed by Ferrari president, former Fiat chairman and potential future premiership candidate Luca di Montezemolo.
Ferrari's was one of several automotive factories that temporarily ceased operations in the wake of the disaster, allowing its workers to tend to their own families. The Maranello-based company has since reopened its factory and is organizing a charity auction to help with the disaster-relief efforts.