20 April 2005

The Web

Pope Benedict XVI will face a deficit

James Debono

There is probably only one place in the world where the cash machines give instructions in Latin. That place is the Vatican City.
Apart from art treasures and places of worship the Vatican includes a petrol pump, a bank, a train station, a post office, a world-renowned pharmacy which does not sell condoms and a supermarket.
The Vatican’s petrol pump is renowned for selling petrol at a cheaper rate than other pumps in Rome.
The state has its own police, passports and license plates.
The city, covering 0.44 sq km, had an income of 146 million euros in 2003 from sales of postage stamps, coins, medals and three million from Vatican museums’ admissions.
Recently, it has not been enough to cover restoration and losses at Vatican Radio and the new pope will face a deficit.
In July 2004 the Vatican reported a deficit for the third consecutive year. The Vatican’s deficit amounts to USD9.6 million (Lm4 million). But that does not take account of the value of the Vatican Museums collection by masters such as Giotto and Caravaggio, or the Vatican bank, reported to have assets of USD4 billion.
The Vatican went through 23 money-losing years until 1993. The situation improved dramatically after bishops around the world agreed to assist the Vatican.
Vatican financial experts often cite heavy personnel costs, noting 2,674 people work in its church offices – more than half being lay people. But the Vatican has also expanded its diplomatic activity, with missions in 118 countries or agencies around the world.
The Vatican report gave no breakdown in contributions, but listing the figure in dollars said Peter’s Pence took in USD55.8 million last year, up 5.7 percent from 2002. Donations from the United States led the list in 2002, followed by Germany and Italy.


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