Norway salmon tax debate hots up

Norwegian-flag

AN intense political debate has broken out in Norway over future plans for taxing its fish farming industry.
The government is said to be looking at using the water and land resources that fish farms take up as a possible source for excise revenue, dubbed the salmon tax.
This suggestion has already met with growing opposition from the Progress and Liberal or Venstre members of parliament, who both help make up the governing coalition, along with the Conservatives and Christian Democrats.
An independent committee, set up by the Oslo government last year, is currently investigating new methods of taxing both the aquaculture and fish catching sectors and it is expected to publish its final recommendations in November.
In addition to the normal corporation tax on profits, aquaculture companies pay substantial sums for new licences.
Most of that money is channelled back to the communities where the new development will take place to help fund schools, medical centres and other social amenities.
Last year, these communities received the sterling equivalent of almost £250 million.
But industry profits have risen sharply over the past two years and some politicians are casting envious eyes on the companies when looking for new sources of taxation
The backing for a land and water resources tax has found more favour with parties on the left of Norway’s political spectrum.
The Socialist party is concentrating on environmental improvements by proposing that the cost of new licences should be lowered in return for salmon companies guaranteeing zero lice and zero escapes before they obtain permission to increase production.
The government’s ‘traffic light’ licence system already allocates new biomass on the basis of sea lice thresholds.
Labour, on the other hand, is lukewarm on a land tax, saying it could place too heavy a burden on the industry and deprive coastal communities of vital income if it replaces the aquaculture community fund, as has been suggested.
Seafood Norway, which represents both fish farmers and trawler companies, is arguing strongly against new tax, saying it will force companies to reduce investment at home and look overseas when deciding where to build new farms.

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