12 March 1999

Input taxes are still priority on agenda

PESTICIDE taxes remain high on the governments agenda even though they were not included in chancellor Gordon Browns budget speech this week.

In a statement issued shortly after Mr Browns speech, the Treasury said the government aimed to build on Labours pre-election pledge to use the tax system to protect the environment.

The statement then referred to a report on the design and impact of a possible tax on pesticides which is due to be published soon.

Commissioned by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, the report details how pesticide taxes might be introduced.

Commenting on the Treasury statement, NFU crops adviser Chris Wise said that it confirmed the unions fears that pesticide taxes remained a government target.

Mr Wise said: "We believe that the government commissioned report considers the impact of a complex matrix of charges on pesticide use, with the most toxic products attracting the highest tax.

"We must continue to state our firm belief that this way of trying to skew demand towards less toxic chemicals will not work.

"Producers aiming for high quality markets will still have to use the more potent chemicals. This policy will only raise funds for the Treasury while damaging the UK industrys competitiveness," said Mr Wise. "It will not achieve its environmental target."