Prime Minister Robert Fico never hid his intention to scrape more money out of the lucrative banking sector, but punch time has come and so the PM met with bank representatives yesterday to discuss his government’s proposals.
In addition to increasing the special bank levy, the government could also try to force banks into offering people a standard package of banking services for EUR 1, but a similar plan backfired while Fico and his Smer-SD were in power between 2006-2010.
This time the government has watered down its plan a little, though, and so instead of being available to everyone in the country, it would only be offered to people in the low earnings bracket, at least for the time being. Fico said he would introduce the standard package deal if banks continued to increase their banking fees. Naturally, the banks are not too keen on losing out on their charges.
The government is set to rake in an extra EUR 50 million from banks this year alone by increasing the bank levy, with around EUR 100 million extra expected in 2013. Fico believes banks should play their part in plugging the public finance hole, especially as they had record high profits in 2010.
Fico issued a statement saying “Today I negotiated with representatives of the banking sector on the introduction of the banking tax. The Slovak government will look into the proposal of the extraordinary bank levy for 2012 at its next session, to generate EUR 50 million. I understand that banks are here to make money and it is only natural that they are not happy with such a decision. I regard it as correct, morally and ethically, for banks to participate in the revival of public finances. They have record high profits and charge people large fees. Despite the objections that the banks have, we will continue in these steps”.