Uncertain Future: Mixed Emotions over the Salmon Tax

(E24) Salmon farmer Ola Braanaas is excited about any changes the government has made to the salmon tax that will be presented on Tuesday. – It could be anything, he says.

Managing director and owner Ola Braanaas in the farming company Firda Seafood.
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Tuesday the government puts forward the final proposal for the disputed one the basic interest tax the basic interest tax ground rent tax is an additional tax on the use of the community’s assets, such as the use of rivers and waterways or wind for power generation, or the use of the community’s fjords for farmingon aquaculture, after receiving a load of input through the consultation round that ended in January.

Managing director and owner Ola Braanaas of Firda Seafood is anxious to see if the government has listened to the industry.

– It is impossible to know what is coming. The government claims it has listened to the input, but we shall see. There has been a lot of mess in this process, Braanaas adds E24.

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It came as a surprise to many when the government presented the tax proposal last autumn, and the salmon shares fell immediately. Earlier this year salmon shares also fluctuated after signals from Sp that indicated lower taxes, which were then denied.

– It has been a completely premature handling, ever since the press conference on 28 September where a proposal was put forward without an impact assessment and without cross-party discussion and internal discussion within the parties. The proposal was also completely contrary to what the Center Party has gone to election on in the past, says Braanaas.

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– The listed companies also experienced huge falls in value, and the auction of new license volumes in the fall was unsuccessful. This has been a process worthy of criticism, he says.

The government has received a lot of opposition from the farming industry after the basic rent tax on aquaculture was introduced from New Year. Several companies have set billion investments on holdand some have referred to layoffs. At the same time, the aquaculture industry has had strong growth and large profits, helped by higher salmon prices.

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– Can be anything

– What is the worst that can happen on Tuesday?

– It could be anything. It is a minority government, and they must take SV with them or enter into a broad settlement. And we know that SV wants a further tightening of the government’s tax proposal. Then it could be a pure confiscation of private businesses, and it already is in part, says Braanaas.

– An alternative to the government agreeing with SV is to enter into a broader settlement and postpone the entire introduction of the tax to ensure a longer-term regime that can stand up over time, he says.

General manager Line Ellingsen of Lofoten-based Ellingsen Seafood, which operates in six municipalities in northern Norway.

– What is the best you can hope for?

– If something positive should come now, it is that the basic deduction the basic deduction only the largest players must pay ground rent tax, and the government has therefore proposed a floor deduction of between 4,000 and 5,000 tonnesremoved in its entirety and the tax rate reduced, or preferably replaced by one production fee. In addition, it must be ensured that the taxation is based on real prices, so that the processing industry can enter into contracts again, says Braanaas.

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Both breeders and the processing industry have argued that the government’s tax proposal did just that virtually impossible to enter into long-term contracts for the delivery of salmon. The reason was that the tax was to be based on the market price, and not the real prices in the contracts. The government subsequently tried to clean this up.

– We have high expectations

Managing director Line Ellingsen of the northern Norwegian farming company Ellingsen Seafood is happy that there will now be a clarification about the salmon tax.

– This proposal has put us in a vacuum for a long, long time, so we are excited about this, says Ellingsen to E24.

– The fact that the government puts it forward at the same time as that the seafood industry gathers for an annual conference means that we have high expectations that this will be good. Støre has said that they have listened to the industry, and I hope so, she says.

Frøya mayor Kristin Furunes Strømskag (H) says she is terribly excited about what will come on Tuesday.

– It has been very difficult to keep up with the turns, says Strømskag to E24.

– I expect that the government has gone through the 14,000 pages consultation input and listens to the proposed necessary changes, and that they postpone their introduction until the Storting has properly dealt with the matter. I also hope for a broad settlement in the Storting, says the Frøya mayor.

Frøya mayor Kristin Furunes Strømskag (H).

Moved to Bø

Braanaas says he hopes for the same tax conditions as competitors in countries such as the Faroe Islands and Iceland.

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– The politicians must make it possible for those of us who do business in Norway to have competitive conditions, he says.

Even the breeder has previously reported move from Gulen in Vestland county to Bø municipality to save approximately 31 million in tax annually, after the government increased the tax value of farming permits. But he has stayed in Norway, unlike in del andre Norwegian owners.

– We hope we have a political regime that facilitates value creation. I don’t want to leave Norway, this is where we were born and raised and do business. But it is terribly frustrating to see that Norwegian entrepreneurs have disadvantages compared to foreign owners, he says.

Ola Braanaas has moved to Bø in Vesterålen.
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