Berlusconi’s daughter criticises Meloni over bank windfall tax

By Angelo Amante

ROME (Reuters) – Marina Berlusconi, the daughter of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, on Friday criticised Italy’s windfall tax on banks, underlining divisions over the issue in the coalition government that includes her late father’s party.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has taken personal responsibilityfor the measure, which targets extra profits made by banks from higher interest rates.

It is the first public criticism of a Meloni policy by Marina Berlusconi, who together with her brother Pier Silvio has assumed effective control of the family business empire after the death of their father in June.

The criticism comes as Forza Italia, founded by the former premier, puts forward proposals in parliament to water down a measure which sparked turmoil in the banking sector when announced in August.

“Who determines when a profit is extra and when it is normal?,” Marina Berlusconi said to reporters after the assembly of influential Italian business lobby Confindustria.

“If it is extra, to what extent is it? (This is) a measure that leaves itself open to several doubts and criticisms,” she added, warning it could deter foreign investors.

Forza Italia amendments would allow banks to partly deduct what they have to pay from their overall corporate tax bill, exempt smaller banks from paying the tax and exclude returns on government bonds from the levy.

The party is also proposing to cap the levy at 0.18% of risk-weighted assets (RWAs) instead of the current 0.1% cap on total assets.

Meloni has said she was open to some modifications, provided the targeted tax take remained unchanged at “just under” 3 billion euros ($3.2 billion).

The Berlusconi family holding company Fininvest has a 30% stake in Italian asset manager Mediolanum, a company that would be hit by the levy.

Marina Berlusconi made clear she broadly appreciated the way Meloni was handling Italy’s strained public accounts and its foreign policy, renewing her support for Antonio Tajani, the foreign minister who has taken the reins of Forza Italia.

“The legislature is still long and there are so many challenges and problems to tackle, it is too early to give a full judgement. Government had to face a very complicated economic situation,” she said. ($1 = 0.9388 euros)

(Additional reporting by Elvira Pollina and Giuseppe Fonte, editing by Keith Weir)