It is not the first time that the government has asked banks and insurers to make a gesture in favor of consumers. Already in the spring, Bruno Le Maire had invited them to show restraint regarding bank charges and insurance premiums.
Bruno Le Maire calls for a price freeze
In this new school year, the Minister of Economy returns to take a step forward. In his interview with Sud Ouest, this Sunday, August 21, the Bercy tenant expressly asks them to make a gesture. He mentions his desire to meet the representatives of the sectors next week to discuss the issue. While inflation exceeds 6% in France in one year, something unheard of since the 1980s, Bruno Le Maire seeks by all means to limit the decline in French purchasing power. However, back to school is often a good time to take out insurance, especially student insurance.
Both banks and insurance companies are holding back. They already believe that they are sufficiently involved in the national effort. Thus, the federation of French banks (FBF) reminds the Tribune that the “Banks, for several years, have been committed to limiting the costs of banking incidents for the most vulnerable customers. Nearly 700,000 people benefited from this support system in 2021.. In total, about 4 million low-income people are covered in this way and have their bank charges limited.
Even so, according to a study by Panorabanques, published at the beginning of the year, bank commissions should increase in 2022 by almost 2%. If this increase is less than inflation, it is, according to this price comparison, among the highest since 2017.
Banks and insurers resist
In addition, the FBF also highlights “French banks are among the largest contributors to French public finances, with around €23.9 billion in taxes, levies, social charges in France, and as such are the largest contributors”.
For their part, insurers believe they are very present in support of people who are victims of bad weather and fires this summer. With rising material cost rates, they often face higher claim reimbursement costs. Insurers are also defending themselves by raising specific offers for young job seekers so that they can access home or car guarantees at a lower cost.
For the moment, a precise date has not been communicated to these sectors about the meeting, but will they be able to stay in their positions for a long time? Nothing less safe because the profits of the establishments can play against you. Just one example: Since the beginning of the year, BNP has posted record profits. After a historic 2021 in terms of profits, the group could achieve one of its best results in 2022: it has already obtained more than 5,000 million euros in profits, 13% more in one year.
Towards an exceptional tax on banks?
There is also the threat of an exceptional tax on these sectors. The idea is not French, but in Spain, Belgium or Hungary, governments plan to temporarily tax banks and insurance companies to finance anti-inflationary measures. The model is simple, it is about taxing them as in the oil sector. In England, Italy or Spain precisely, the energy giants that have reaped super profits with the crisis are taxed.
For the moment, France has not taken this path. In fact, the question of the so-called super-profit tax was discussed in the National Assembly and the Senate this summer, during the discussion of the text on purchasing power. But she was not adopted. The Emmanuel Macron government prefers to encourage these companies to take action. This is what Total has done, for example, which applies a bonus at the pump, in addition to that of the executive. The same goes for highway companies, which reduce toll rates for certain customers, according to specific conditions…
But the subject is far from dead. It could even go back into effect this summer, during the budget debate. Therefore, insurers and bankers are on their guard. These sectors are all the more so since in French public opinion their image is not always very favourable.
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