Salmon tax row: independent group may decide base price

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The Norwegian government is looking at setting up an independent body to set standard salmon prices, based on market values, as the basis for its proposed ground rent tax.

The plan was unveiled to the employer organisations Seafood Norway (Sjømat Norge) and Seafood Companies (Sjømatbedriftene), when they met Finance Minister Trygve Vedum and Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bjørnar Skjæran on Friday.

The government had asked for a meeting with Norway’s big five salmon companies but they turned down the invitation, claiming it was a move to split the salmon farming industry.

The full details have yet to be set out, but the government goal is to try to find the market price for salmon, and Vedum told a press conference after the meeting there were several possible ways to do that

He said the ruling Labour-Centre Party coalition was considering setting up an independent body to determine standard prices as a basis for the tax.

It is, therefore, real income from the sale of salmon that must be used as the basis for taxation and it should be a fair tax, he contended.

The proposal was to set up an independent standard price council and there would be no tax on further processing, Vedum insisted.

He also repeated that the government would not back down from its plan to impose a ground rent tax on the salmon and trout industry (along with the offshore wind power sector) reminding the public that “the high profitability of the aquaculture industry comes from our shared natural resources and skilled people along the coast.”

So far the industry reaction has been lukewarm, but the idea has not been rejected out of hand. Further talks are expected on the issue.

Some large companies have expressed concerns that a spot price for salmon, which could be the basis for a producer’s assessed tax liability, might well be higher than the prices achieved under contract deals.

Paul Birger Torgnes, chairman of Seafood Norway, said after the meeting clear views had been expressed on both sides even if even if there were differing opinions on the tax.

“We have received a concrete input today which helps to remove some of the uncertainty, and we appreciate that,” he added. “We must look at their proposal and we believe, along with the ministers, that real income should be the basis.”

Trygve Slagsvold Vedum, Norway’s Finance Minister

 

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