BREAKING NEWS: Norwegian government wins salmon tax vote

The Norwegian Parliament voted this afternoon in favour of the government’s controversial new “ground rent” tax, which will be levied on much of the country’s salmon industry.

The decision on the new tax – also known as the “salmon tax” – came after a lengthy and often fractious five hour debate in the Storting. The vote was passed by 93 to 76 votes – a majority of 17.

Even though the rate has been cut from the original budget proposal of 40% down to 35% and finally 25%, it effectively doubles the tax burden on the coastal salmon and trout farming companies when combined with existing taxes. Land-based salmon farms and small coastal farms are exempt.

Billions of kroner were wiped off the value of salmon company shares on the Oslo Stock Exchange immediately following the vote.

The outcome represents victory for the Labour-Centre party coalition, which has faced a barrage of criticism from the industry, opposition parties and business commentators since the plan was first announced in the national budget last September.

Yesterday it looked as if the vote might be won on a majority of one after a late decision by the Liberals – and the single seat Patient Focus party – to back the government. Patient Focus was formed two years ago to promote the building of a new hospital in the Finnmark town of Alta.

It won one of Finnmark’s five parliamentary seats through Norway’s proportional representation voting system.

The government was later boosted  by the far left Red (“Rodt”) party’s decision to back the 25% rate even though it wanted a far larger tax take from salmon companies. Rodt has nine sitting members in the Storting.

Other measures voted through today include a higher income for coastal salmon farming communities, stronger environmental controls and an increase in the wealth tax valuation discount from 50% to 75% (which mostly affects privately owned salmon businesses).

The salmon industry is expected to comment on the decision later, but despite the reduction in the rate it will not be pleased.

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