Vatican City - Services

There is no conventional service sector in the Holy See although, quite obviously, public service is provided by retail sales people, museum attendants, and other workers necessary to the smooth operation of the city. Financial services provide the most significant economic component of the sector, but again, they operate primarily to generate wealth for Church and state, benefitting only a few handpicked individuals outside of this. No opportunities for private business organizations or enterprises to operate independently are provided within the Vatican's confines.

The Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See (APSA) manages the Holy See's cash and investments, including its patrimony and pension fund. There is a growing demand for public financial reporting, and Pope John Paul II has partly met this demand. A report, Consolidated Financial Statements of the Holy See, is prepared by the president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, who acts as the Pope's treasurer. This report, however, only reveals details of the financial administration in the Holy See, a partial disclosure that conceals details of other accounts such as the Vatican Bank and the Vatican City State. It is known, though, that about half the income of the Vatican City State is used to help finance the Holy See.

The heart of the Vatican's finances is the Vatican Bank. The bank's official designation is that of The Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), a title that reveals its original purpose as a body charged with the financing of religious works. However, the Vatican Bank has evolved into a major financial institution, responsible for the investment and administration of all state funds, as well as dealing with the banking requirements of church officials, diplomats, and other servants of the state. The bank is not open to any individuals or corporations outside Vatican City.

The Holy See engages in substantial investments worldwide, which yield huge revenues in interest payments. Details of the state's financial activities tend to be shrouded in secrecy, but it is known that the main avenues of investment are banking, insurance, real estate, utilities, and building. The Holy See also has financial interests in the lucrative production of flour and spaghetti. Investment is largely directed towards companies that cater to basic human needs and are thus fundamentally sound, which contributes to the state's reputation as a prudent investor.

Apart from shares in private enterprise, the Holy See holds a large amount of government bonds and debentures ( titoli and obbligazioni ), and derives a percentage of its income from the rentals of apartments and shops. It owns several thousand hectares of land including some valuable building sites, particularly in the vicinity of Rome, and has gold reserves in Fort Knox.

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