Tax on bank extra profits: satisfied government, bankers’ silence. The reactions

Discussions continue regarding the government’s decision to tax the extra profits of the banks. While the executive defends the measure, the oppositions try to claim the paternity of the tax. Criticisms from the Third Pole. Great irritation behind the silence of the Abi and of the lenders, taken by surprise. Meanwhile, compared to the first version there are already changes, such as the introduction of the maximum limit

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Discussions continue regarding the government’s decision to tax the extra profits of the banks. While the executive defends the measure, the markets did not like it yesterday: Milan closed with a sharp drop, -2.12%, burning 27 billion (9 of the banks’ capitalization) in one day. Today Piazza Affari already seems to have “digested” the tax, with headlines bouncing. In the meantime, great irritation has leaked out behind the silence of the ABI and of the credit institutes, taken by surprise and not warned by the government.

Government reactions

The rule on bank extra profits was “proposed in the CDM by Economy Minister Giorgetti” and “obtained unanimous consent, then it was approved and presented at the press conference”, explained the Minister of Enterprise and Made in Italy Adolfo Urso on A7. “It’s a measure that already exists in Europe. We intervened to restore justice. It is neither of the right nor of the left, therefore it is right”. There is “a big imbalance”, explained also the undersecretary to the presidency of the Council Giovanbattista Fazzolari, precisely because today there are “two reference rates very distant from each other: those for access to credit and those recognized when paid”. So the government, he added, carried out “a justice operation” and at the same time “reduced a distortion” of the market. And it was the only one who could do it, who could “have the strength to tax the banks”, underlined one of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s closest collaborators, because “it is the only government that does not have privileged relations with the banking system”. Illustrating the measure, Matteo Salvini defined it a “common sense rule” to “help families and businesses affected by the increase in interest rates”. The other Deputy Prime Minister Antonio Tajani also spoke of “a measure to protect families and all those individuals who have found themselves in difficulty due to the mortgage payments”. Some doubts, if nothing else of method, were instead registered by Forza Italia parties: with its group leader in the Chamber Paolo Barelli argued that perhaps the government should have “evaluated better” such a move.

The oppositions

The oppositions like the measure: they ran – excluding the Third Pole, for once united – to claim the paternity of the tax. In the passage to the Chambers, the provision could find a side outside the majority. The 5 Star Movement, which has been proposing an extraordinary tax for months, commented with Giuseppe Conte: “They criticize us, they snub us, they accuse us of demagoguery. Then they can’t admit it, but they have to agree with us. We are still waiting to read the text”. The Democratic Party was lukewarm, which in recent weeks had filed a proposal in the Senate to sterilize the increase in mortgage payments. “Much remains to be done. But rather than nothing, better rather”, said Antonio Misiani. “The government welcomes our proposal for a solidarity levy to be paid by the banks. Better late than never. Now, if they were serious, they should restore the taxation of energy players’ extra profits, which the government has reduced and whose payment was recently extended”, commented the former Minister of Labor Andrea Orlando instead. Carlo Calenda’s reaction was of the opposite tenor: the leader of Azione defined the tax as “wrong” and “a dangerous precedent”, because “taxes on extra profits are legitimate only in the event of extraordinary events, see energy-war, which significantly distort the functioning of the market”.

The silence of the bankers

And while a positive opinion has also arrived from the CISL, there has been only a deafening silence from the bankers. Mouths sewn by the individual banks, but also by the Abi. A generalized “no comment” which hides great irritation not only for the measure itself, but above all for the lack of any warning from the executive: the banks were not informed of a decision that no one expected and which, among the other, Economy Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti had categorically ruled out in June, reassuring that the measure was absolutely not in the pipeline. Although in Parliament, at the end of April, it was Giorgetti himself who underlined how the government would not neglect the increased profitability of the banks. The only one to break the silence, in the last few hours, was Mario Alberto Pedranzini, number one of Banca Popolare di Sondrio, who summarized the concerns of the sector as follows: “We were taken by surprise and we are awaiting the publication of the decree, in order to evaluate the effects on the bank’s balance sheet”.

The correctives

Meanwhile, compared to the first version there are already some corrections by the government. A maximum ceiling has been introduced which, the government explained, serves to “safeguard the stability” of the institutions. The MEF clarified it on Tuesday evening: the maximum ceiling for the contribution, he explained, cannot exceed 0.1% of total assets. “The banking institutions that have already adjusted the rates on funding as recommended on 15 February with a specific note from Bank of Italy, a recommendation later recalled by Minister Giorgetti on the occasion of the ABI assembly on 5 July, will not have significant impacts as a result of the law approved in the CDM”, added the MEF in a note.