At last, Italy has given pizzo the same status as pizza. According to a retailers’ association, the mafia is Italy’s Numero Uno business. The report added that revenue from mafia-propelled activities, which includes pizzo — extortion money — amounts to an estimated $ 127 billion annually. This constitutes about 7 per cent of Italy’s GDP and includes extortion, drug trafficking, usury and prostitution rings. The government, as expected, is living in denial. The head of Italy’s anti-rackets commission gravely noted that the mafiosi are impacting foreign investment and only one in every 100 foreign investors visiting the country sets up business in Don Vito Corleone’s territory. The report also points to a disturbing trend of collusion in which big businesses participate, especially in public works.
The figures may have made the Italian government a little queasy. But it has made us curious about the strike rate and the turnover of the Gangs of UP and Bihar. The figure may be a little awkward to match in dollar terms. But believe us, when it comes to core competencies, our men can give the capo dei capi a run for their lira.
Instead of feeling sore over such a handsome contribution the mafia makes in the economy, which has lagged behind the euro-zone rate for 11 years, the Italian government should look for novel ways to exploit the world famous industry. We offer a humble suggestion: a mafia-theme tour of Sicily, the 19th century birthplace of the Order with the works — masonic lodges, initiation rituals and the oath of loyalty. We promise to observe the omerta.