But today’s tax proposal is fortunately only a theoretical exercise – without much political support.
The Aquaculture Tax Committee today presents its 237-page report on taxation of the aquaculture industry. Here, a 40 per cent rate for extraordinary tax on aquaculture is proposed.
But it is a proposal – not a decision.
One after the other, political parties commented on this issue during their national meetings this spring. And the conclusion was clear: the government parties and the Centre Party would not have an extraordinary tax on aquaculture. The Labour Party did not make a decision, but can control its enthusiasm.
Leading union, LO, and NHO, who are organising employees, are also clear that they do not want an extraordinary tax in Norwegian aquaculture.
The Centre Party’s industrial policy spokesman Geir Pollestad said this spring that “there is no need to introduce a special tax to go straight to the treasury”.
It is largely the Socialist Party, fronted by Deputy Leader Torgeir Knag Fylkesnes, who has advocated a heavier taxation of salmon farming.
But not even the Socialist Party has called for 40 percent taxation.
A 40 per cent reduction in profits would have decimated the willingness to invest in Norwegian aquaculture. It will have ensured a fast and efficient capital flight of both capital export and expertise. Land-based salmon farms are already under construction in a large number of countries, and there would not be fewer after that.
There is no reason to doubt that fish farmers will spend their investment budgets in countries other than Norway. This was exactly what happened during the Labour Party regime in the 1980s, when no fish farmers were allowed to own more than one license. The consequence was that Norwegian fish farmers invested in and built up salmon farming in Ireland, Scotland, Canada and the USA.
The capital is mobile. And it knows no borders. It is placed where it achieves the best return.
“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of misery,” said Sir Winston Churchill.
Today’s anti-business proposal rightly show how bad it could have been if the dark red had a majority in the Norwegian Parliament.
But they have not.