SSPO call to reinstate government taskforce: “HMRC appear a law unto themselves”

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The Scottish Seafood Exports Task Force which was set up, in part, to support UK’s largest food export over Brexit issues, has been disbanded. Trade organisation calls Brexit and UK tax collector department “shambles”.

On 14th June, the UK Government announced its intention to disband the Scottish Seafood Exports Taskforce.

The combined UK and Scottish group was set up in February at the urging of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO).

With meetings every two weeks, the Taskforce was meant to increase confidence in the seafood and aquaculture supply chain by ensuring that medium and longer-term export issues were resolved over Brexit.

In a statement, the SSPO said it disagrees with the decision, announced by David Duguid MP, UK Government Minister for Scotland, and called for it to continue.

SSPO CEO Tavish Scott said the Taskforce has brought “both Government’s together to deal with the shambles of Brexit”.

“However, salmon exports still use a paper-based system, with higher costs, greater bureaucracy and less absolute certainty over delivery times. We need a fully digital, online export system to replace paper and exporters still lack a set timetable. That is why Mairi Gougeon MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy, is right to call for these regular meetings to continue and we support that,” he added.

“On supplier declarations, there has been progress, but we have asked that as this is a risk-based assessment, companies who comply with the requirements can return to the pre 1st January system. We await the government’s help with that,” he said.

Scott had strong words for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs big blunder in April, where HMRC export figures were off by 97 per-cent for Scottish salmon. 

“Finally, the shambles over HMRC export figures continues. HMRC appear a law unto themselves. No matter how many times Ministers and civil servants tell them to correct their erroneous export figures, HMRC ignore everyone. All exporters would be very grateful if the UK Government sorted this out,” he added.