An island in the Venice lagoon is part of several properties and assets that the Italian government is selling to slash its public debt and comply with European Union guidelines, according to Reuters.
Italy is selling the island of Poveglia, which has been inhabited for years and is called “the world’s most haunted island,” along with a 15th century castle in Gradisca d’Isonzo, a former monastery on the southern coast, and 40 other assets, Reuters reporter Francesca Landini wrote.
Bids, which are submitted through an online auction, are due by May 6, according to Demanio, the Italian agency in charge of public lands. Demanio, which raised €1.8 billion ($2.486 billion) by selling state-owned properties since 2001, expects to earn €500 million ($690.6 million) by the end of the year from selling the country’s real estate holdings.
The U.S. government takes a similar approach with the General Service Administration’s GovSales.gov, the federal agency’s auction site in which buyers can bid on excess government property and assets.
But Stuart Butler—a distinguished fellow at The Heritage Foundation who has advocated for years that the federal government reduce its asset portfolio—said Washington should go further in its asset divestitures.
“There is a lot more that the government could do, such as selling huge swaths of land (especially out West), mineral rights, power marketing administration generators, more of the electromagnetic spectrum, and underutilized buildings to name a few,” said Butler, director of the think tank’s Center for Policy Innovation.
“The value in doing this is that you shrink the government’s control as you decrease its physical assets,” he said, adding that sales of federal properties could also pay transition costs for entitlement reforms.