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Government FARTs again

6 November 2003
PR 223/2003

Government FARTs again

Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc) is shocked that the government has whacked farmers and other exporters with a sneaky new tax, said Federation President Tom Lambie.

His comments follow Customs Minister Rick Barker late last night saying that from July he will slap a $20 million "security fee" on traders, including $8 million to be raised from the export sector.

About 85 percent of agricultural production in New Zealand is exported and those exports amount to approximately $16 billion, or 55 percent of exports. The bulk of the new tax will inevitably be paid by farmers.

"Farmers are already facing the Big Squeeze -- profits margins crushed by the higher New Zealand dollar, weak global economy, and higher compliance costs," Mr Lambie said. "This new tax adds weight to the wall of costs pressuring farmers."

Mr Lambie also said he was frustrated by the government's ad hoc approach to developing policy.

"This 'security fee' is going to be tacked on to the Border Security Bill after the select committee considering the Bill has heard the views of groups affected. This makes a mockery of the Parliamentary process."

In two weeks the Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc) National Council meets in Wellington to review its activities for the year ahead. The agenda will focus on the Big Squeeze --the challenge of maintaining cost competitiveness in an increasingly difficult international market.

"It was not by accident that the federation named the campaign against methane emissions as the F.A.R.T campaign. There is an overwhelming need not only to Fight Against Ridiculous Taxes but also against other unrealistic government charges," Mr Lambie said.

Mr Lambie also criticised the uniformity of the charge.

"The government will charge all exporters irrespective of the level of risk and the destination of exports, and despite only the United States heightening its security requirements."

ENDS

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