June 16, 2015 / 8:03 AM / 4 years ago

Polish opposition backs Hungary-style taxes on banks, retailers-report

WARSAW, June 16 (Reuters) - The Polish opposition party Law and Justice (PiS) wants to introduce Hungarian-style special taxes on banks and supermarkets if it comes to power, a close adviser to the party leader was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

Piotr Glinski said the party, which leads opinion polls before October’s parliamentary elections, would also aim to limit profits transferred abroad by foreign firms operating in Poland.

“We uphold the proposal of sectoral taxes - that is, taxing financial institutions and retail networks,” Glinski said in an interview with the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita.

“We want to send a message to our foreign guests that we are happy to see their honestly-run businesses, but we have to introduce taxes which they are also paying in other countries,” Glinski said.

About two-thirds of Poland’s banks and most of its large retail networks are foreign-owned. All companies pay a flat income tax rate of 19 percent. Banks also a levy for a banking guarantee fund.

The ruling pro-business ruling party, Civic Platform (PO), has presided over strong economic growth since 2007. But its candidate lost a May presidential election to a Law and Justice challenger and may lose the parliamentary election as well.

The two latest opinion polls gave an alliance led by PiS about 30 percent support. PO got only 19 percent.

Asked if imposing new taxes would not make foreign investors leave Poland, Glinski said: “This has not happened anywhere in the world. Please look at Hungary, which has introduced such measures recently.

“Competition means that these institutions agree to a lower margin ... In Poland this margin is the highest in Europe, so there is plenty of leeway,” said Glinski, who chairs the committee drawing up the party’s policy programme.

Polish banks overall had a 10.2 percent return-on-equity profitability ratio in the first half of last year, one of the highest in Europe, European Central Bank data show. The ratio for the entire European Union was 4.6 percent.

In Hungary, the ratio was minus 32.2 percent. Hungary has slapped special taxes on banks and forced them to convert loans denominated in Swiss franc loans into the local currency.

Spain’s Banco Santander, Italy’s Unicredit and Germany’s Commerzbank are among banking groups that own Polish subsidiaries. (Reporting by Marcin Goettig; Editing by Larry King)

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