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NSA boss Marianne Lie quits over tax row

NSA boss Marianne Lie quits over tax row

Singapore: The influence of the Norwegian Shipowners' Association (NSA) stretches far outside its native country and particularly to overseas hubs of Norwegian shipping activity such as Singapore. So shock waves will reverberating through Lion City with the news that Marianne Lie, director general of the NSA, resigned today over a tax row that has split the Norwegian shipping community.

To recap, the Norwegian government in late 2007 proposed a new shipping taxation regime whereby owners would henceforth be subject to a near-zero taxation rate (0.6%), on a par with tonnage tax regimes in EU countries. But in return it asked shipowners to retroactively pay taxes for which they have been exempted the past 11 years on the grounds monies were reinvested in tonnage - a total of some NOK 14bn ($2.6bn) to be paid over a 10-year period.

In her NSA role Lie led a very public campaign of opposition to the move, claiming it was unconstitutional and curried public favour in the short term at the expense of the long term interests of shipping and the Norwegian economy as a whole. There was talk of legal action by the NSA against the government.

But in recent weeks there has been a noticeable softening of the mood of the shipowning lobby and growing acceptance of the trade-off, especially since the Norwegian public has very little sympathy for the plight of a sector that will be subject to such low taxes in the future.

Lie resigned today, saying that after losing the fight over the new tax regulation she felt it was time for a new person to fill the position as NSA director general. She will leave on 1st Feb after holding the position six years. Jon Egil Johnsen will step in as acting DG on a temporary basis.  [16/01/08] 

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