Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni took political responsibility for last week’s decision to impose a 40% tax on banks’ extra profits, a move that unsettled investors and wiped out an initial $10 billion in market value.
(Bloomberg) — Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni took political responsibility for last week’s decision to impose a 40% tax on banks’ extra profits, a move that unsettled investors and wiped out an initial $10 billion in market value.
The controversial levy, bundled with a host of other measures at the government’s final cabinet meeting before vacation, was her initiative, Meloni said in an interview with Italian newspapers from her holiday residence in the southern region of Puglia. She insisted it went through cabinet last Monday to avoid any delay in the approval, Meloni added.
“The banking system has been quick to raise interest rates on mortgages, but it has left unchanged those for savers and a distortion was created,” Meloni told Corriere della Sera, la Repubblica and La Stampa in the interview published Monday. “Of course I would do it again,” she added. “It’s an initiative that I wanted because I think you have to send a message about the idea of a just state.”
The surprise announcement of the bank tax by Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini led to a market rout and prompted accusations that Meloni’s ruling coalition was damaging Italy’s credibility among investors.
Bank shares later recovered after officials clarified that the government would limit the impact for many lenders.
“I don’t want to punish banks, but there was a situation of imbalance,” Meloni told the three papers. “With the ECB’s consistent and prolonged increase in interest rates, households and businesses risk being penalized.”
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