Raising money to support Italy

Monaco’s Italian community has been raising funds to help support hospitals in the hardest-hit country in Europe, raising €70,000 so far.
AIIM President Paolo Risso spoke to Monaco Life about the campaign and how the Italian business community in Monaco is dealing with the crisis.
How have you personally found the lockdown in Monaco since it was announced four weeks ago?
Firstly, I think we should all express our best wishes to Prince Albert and the Minister of State Serge Telle for a total recovery – we need them and we need them to be strong.
Secondly, I think that the lockdown has been – as everywhere in the world – a very wise decision and I think the Monegasque nationals and residents have respected this lockdown highly.
On the other side, the lockdown has had a big impact on the economy. If you consider all the events that normally take place in Monaco during spring time – even the postponement of the Cannes Film Festival and the flow-on tourism to Monaco – it is all having a massive impact on the Principality.
Italy is now gradually lifting strict confinement measures which began five weeks ago… how have Italian businesses been impacted by the crisis?
In terms of the economy, it has been a disaster for all Italian companies – except perhaps food producers. But free entrepreneurs, real estate agents, those in shipping… we are all really struggling these days.
What is encouraging however is that despite the Italian government offering financial aid to companies, I don’t see anyone abusing this aid. We have to be grateful for the advantages that we have from living in Monaco, so now is not the time to take money from the Italian government unless you need it desperately. Rather, we must try to offer our support and I think this is what the Italian business community has been trying to do. They are trying to cope with the present conditions, firstly by supporting all the workers of the various companies.
Tourism-related businesses are obviously taking a massive hit…
There is no doubt that people will tend to stay closer to home once this lockdown is lifted across the globe. Hopefully, Monaco will benefit from people visiting from neighbouring countries, like France and Italy.
People will hopefully take advantage of the fact that Monaco has had no new cases of Covid-19 since Sunday, and has had just over 100 cases in total – this is very positive. The Princess Grace Hospital has done an amazing job, and while I am very sorry for those who have passed away, I think the government has managed this health crisis very well.
Paolo, you and I spoke just after Italy went in to lockdown, and you warned that the same was set to happen in France and Monaco. Still, it came as a surprise to everyone a week later when the lockdowns were announced…
The virus spread so quickly in the north of Italy, but it was clear that it was going to move all around Europe. We may call this continent Europe, but the EU is not really efficient in my opinion. Because the moment the situation changed in Italy, the whole of Europe should have taken advantage of the warning and launched into immediate action. Why did they wait until the situation exploded?
What is it like being in Monaco during the lockdown?
We are no more than 20,000 people in town – in my opinion – just the residents and Monegasques. I am glad to hear the Minister of State say that we will not necessarily follow France in extending the lockdown to 11thMay. I think Monaco, being a nation dependant on VAT and tourism, can’t wait for too long. But of course, we have to make sure people are safe and secure first.
How is the Italian community dealing with the crisis situation in their native country?
All of the various cultural and entrepreneurial Italian associations in Monaco have set up a bank account to support the Italian hospitals during the crisis, like Bergamo which was severely hit by the virus. All of our grandfathers are no longer there, it is incredible. We have raised up to €70,000 among the Italian community in Monaco. The initiative is being promoted by Alessandro Dalmasso – former Vice President of the AIIM.
What will the AIIM be doing in the months ahead to support the Italian entrepreneurs in Monaco?
We are trying to gather professionals in various fields – such as lawyers and accountants – to offer free assistance to members of the AIIM association. We obviously can’t organise any social events, but we want to implement assistance for the Italian entrepreneurial community in Monaco.
Photo: Paolo Risso, President AIIM Monaco, all rights reserved to Monaco Life