Norway: Opposition blasts proposed tax on coastal zones – Fishupdate.com

Norway: Opposition blasts proposed tax on coastal zones Published:  08 January, 2008

Kristin Halvorsen

NORWAY’S left-centre coalition government is reportedly planning new taxes for use of the seas around the country. Opposition politicians have branded the proposed tax as “absurd.”

According to Aftenposten, bureaucrats working in the Finance Ministry now run by Kristin Halvorsen of the Socialist Left are constantly on the lookout for new ways of generating tax income. Newspaper Aftenposten reported over the weekend that they’ve now set their sights on the seas surrounding the country.

They want to impose a new tax on use of coastal waters, a proposal that would put an additional tax burden on such core Norwegian businesses as seafood production and offshore operations.

“Townships should demand to be paid for use of areas in the coastal zone,” Henriette Westhrin, a state secretary in the Finance Ministry for the Socialist Left, told Aftenposten. “There’s a lot of pressure on use of the seas, and there’s a need to regulate it. A tax can inspire the townships to improve coastal resources, because they’d get paid for it.”

Protests came swiftly. “This sort of tax would weaken the competitiveness of coastal businesses,” claims Geir Ove Ytsmark of the fisheries trade association FHL. The national trade association for seafood producers also opposes such an additional tax, claiming the industry already faces enough challenges to new business growth.

Telecoms operators also are worried, fearing it would put a new tax on placement of undersea cables. That would boost telecoms costs for consumers.

Opposition politicians called the proposal “absurd,” claiming it would hurt business in the very areas (outlying districts) where most officials are trying to boost business. “It’s meaningless to impose this in an effort to strengthen township economies,” said Torbjørn Hansen of the Conservatives.

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