Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni softened her tone on plans to impose a windfall tax on banks and on her right-wing administration’s activism in the corporate arena, after a series of recent moves called into question her business-friendly approach.
(Bloomberg) — Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni softened her tone on plans to impose a windfall tax on banks and on her right-wing administration’s activism in the corporate arena, after a series of recent moves called into question her business-friendly approach.
Rome has no intention to tax banks’ “legitimate profits,” the premier said in an interview with Il Sole 24 Ore, just weeks after she roiled markets with a surprise announcement of a new levy on lenders.
Meloni also told Il Sole she’s confident that trade relations with China won’t be affected by whatever decision is made on the future of a controversial infrastructure development pact signed by the two countries.
The remarks point to a more moderate and balanced approach by Meloni, who in recent weeks surprised investors and markets with an interventionist push in the corporate space, highlighted by the mid-August decision to impose a tax on additional profits earned by banks as a result of the European Central Bank’s decision to raise interest rates.
Meloni’s government has taken an active role in a range of corporate sectors, from finance to aviation to technology. Italy on Monday approved a decree that empowers the state to take a stake in Telecom Italia SpA’s network business, part of an effort by the increasingly activist government to assert more control over strategic assets.
The premier on Wednesday defended that policy, telling Il Sole that Rome had “made a choice” to retain public control of the carrier’s network in the interest of defending free markets.
On China, Meloni confirmed that Italy’s controversial role in the Belt and Road infrastructure project will be discussed in parliament. Rome has been under pressure from the US to pull out of the program, and Meloni pledged to protect relations with China regardless of the fate of the pact.
Addressing the Stability and Growth Pact — a set of rules to ensure that countries in the European Union pursue sound public finances and coordinate fiscally — Meloni said investments in ecological transition and defense should not fall under the pact’s regulations. The premier and her allies have also regularly clashed with the EU over budgetary issues.
More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.