Norway’s Finance Minister says salmon tax will go ahead

Norway’s Finance Minister Trygve Slagsvold Vedum remained defiant today as he prepared to deliver his first national budget which will impose extra costs worth billions of krone on the country’s larger salmon and trout farmers.

With the backing of Labour Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, Centre Party leader Vedum has thrown the normally stable industry into turmoil since he was forced to reveal his controversial salmon land tax plan a week ago.

The coalition government’s new tax will apply to farms with production of over 5,000 tonnes a year, meaning the smaller salmon farmers should escape.

Millions have been wiped off salmon shares – SalMar alone has lost half of its stock market value – while all the major companies have pulled or shelved ambitious investment plans.

The land tax, which is also being levied on Norway’s wind power industry, is expected to raise up to NOK 3.8 billion (£320m) to help plug Norway’s growing budget deficit. However, the salmon industry thinks it could be three times that figure.

There is even unrest within Vedum’s own ranks, with several Centre Party coastal mayors urging him to rethink his plans.

But the Finance Minister said he is not for turning. He told the financial website E24 yesterday that Mowi alone has paid out around three billion krone to shareholders so far this year.

He said he wants the industry to be profitable, pointing out that companies also get a 40% tax allowance for investments. He also intends to consult local communities about his plan.

Vedum also told E24 that Mowi’s largest shareholder John Fredriksen and SalMar founder Gustav Witzøe had made enormous fortunes from using Norway’s fjords, so they should share more with the local communities.

Asked if he had nightmares about “emigrating salmon barons and dying coastal villages”, he replied “No – I have not”.



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