I have never experienced such enthusiasm from bankers as when discussing setting up a national development fund in recent months.
Is this good or bad?
Probably depending on where you look at it. In my eyes, this is a signal of some victory for financiers over the more expensive concept of bank tax. Do I understand that the idea of a sector tax disappears with the birth of the fund idea?
Similar funds like our national development are slowly as old as humanity itself. If you look in Italy in the first half of 19th century, in France, you will find the same, similar organizations dedicated to financing infrastructure, smaller business and housing or today's language to start-ups, it worked in a similar way. Such an instrument did not yet exist in Theio. And I see the debate around the fund as separate from the bank tax. It is important that the idea is not exotic for At Theio, but it is historically and geographically more extensive. Significantly activating the balance sheets of banks that have a lot of liquidity and capital and letting them operate in the direction the country needs is a logical matter.
Why do you think the fund was created soon after discussions about bank tax?
It generally seems that the Czecha state budget will not be in good shape as it seemed, and alternatives are being sought. And this is a strong opportunity to unite the forces of the state and the private sector to create something that can be here for two hundred years and become the next pillar of funding to improve the country's infrastructure.
Do you perceive bank tax and development fund as two relationships?
They are philosophically and mathematically unrelated. You don't know where they are going on taxes. Here it will be clear what is being invested. Specific kilometers of highways, specific school or hospital. Moreover, it is possible to activate more money than the deposits themselves. And we like to contribute to the prosperity of the country. That's all magic.
But the banks did not open the discussion on the creation of the fund, they were not promoters, they did not take the first step.
The idea originated from a dialogue with each other. Do you feel like it is dictating? It's like a marriage. There, they take the first step. It is not a duel that invented it. Let politicians get their share of political capital out of it, that's their job. We like to activate our balance sheet in favor of infrastructure investments. The road ahead will be long.
What is the amount of the fund you invest in is a ceiling?
This cannot be said in the long run. For example, when I saw our minority shareholders who invested billions in our bank's story, our role in the fund is clear to them. Together with the state, we are creating the country's infrastructure. It will be up to the state, as a provider of investment content, to set priorities.
Do your minority shareholders share with you the enthusiasm of the development fund?
They are waiting for the specific form of the program, whether they translate it as an investment opportunity or another tax return. There is some uncertainty, and I explain it to them as they are now. We must consider this as cooperation and contribution to the prosperity of the country on a commercial and voluntary basis.
The idea of involving banks more closely may be due to the fact that the return on capital of domestic banks is significantly higher than in Europe. Komerční banka has almost twice the return of capital than a French mother. Why is it that the Czecha business does twice as well as in France?