Calls to postpone salmon tax gather momentum
Demands are growing for the Norwegian government to postpone its controversial salmon tax plan, as the situation threatens to end in chaos.
The finance committee’s recommendations, which are still confidential, will be voted on by Norway’s parliament, the Storting, next Wednesday (31 May).
The Labour-Centre coalition now faces a possible situation of recommending a policy with no support either on the right or on the left.
It has spent the past couple of days negotiating with one main opposition party – the Socialist Left (SV), which is openly hostile towards the salmon farming industry – but little progress was made.
SV is demanding that the ground rent tax be raised to 48%, with stricter environmental controls, and it also wants cod farming companies to be included in any legislation.
The main opposition parties such as the Conservatives, the Liberals, Greens, Christian Democrats and the right of centre Progressives (Frp) party have either walked out or refused to take part in talks.
Frp spokesman Roy Steffensen said: “We have reached a situation where a completely new tax is to be introduced, and the government has not been able to secure a majority for how it should be structured.”
So far the coalition says it is sticking to its earlier plan by continuing to recommend a 35% tax rate (it had earlier offered to reduce it to 30%).
Both parties have stated they continue to be united on policy. However, they are paying a heavy political price as their popularity slumps in the polls.
The Norwegian press is speculating that the government could fail to get a majority if the SV party the smaller and even more left wing Red or Rodt party vote against the finance committee’s recommendations.
Alternatively, they could throw their lot in with the government next week if they feel this is the only way of reining in the fish farming industry.
The government says it is open to negotiation if the other parties decide to return to the table.