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Rich countries’ aid and Italian stinginess

Hillary Clinton recently compared Guido Bertolaso, former head of the Italian Protezione civile and now deputy secretary to Prime Minister Berlusconi, to a "monday morning quarterback" for his blasts on US relief operations in Haiti, but yesterday Italy has come under fire from other sides too.

In the last chapter of his 2010 annual letter Bill Gates, chair of the Bill&Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the most successful worldwide charities funding scientific resarch as well as aid, spells it out loud and clear:

"Italy was at the low end of European givers even before the Berlusconi
government came in and cut the aid by over half, making them uniquely
stingy
among European donors. These cuts will show up in Italy’s 2009
aid figures. Bob Geldof put it well when he said the Italian government
is suggesting “they want to balance their budget on the backs of the
poor—how shameful.”
In June, I met with Prime Minister Berlusconi
personally to make the case for more support, but I was unsuccessful.
This is a huge disappointment since I still think the Italian public
wants to be as generous as people in other countries".

Gates seems quite right as figures from charities like Telethon and Airc show Italians are traditionally generous givers. Appearently much more than their leaders from whatever party thei come.