Antti Rinne, the chairperson of the Social Democrats, electrified the first televised debate in the run-up to next month’s parliamentary elections by suggesting he is willing to raise value-added tax on meat. (Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)

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A QUESTION about climate change, food production and taxation stirred up emotions during an election debate organised on Thursday by YLE.

Finnish party leaders were asked by the public broadcasting company whether they support the notion of raising the value-added tax on meat products, not dissimilarly to those on harmful products such as alcohol and tobacco.

“I think that a value-added tax based on sustainable development is the only right way to steer consumption […] in the right direction,” commented Antti Rinne, the chairperson of the Social Democrats.

He was then asked where the tax should be levied. “On the price of the product, of course,” he replied, prompting another follow-up question. “On meat, for example. I’m talking now about beef fillets imported from Brazil. We’ll also have to take care of emissions from meat production in Finland.”

His statement provoked a flurry of comments from the other party leaders, forcing the discussion moderator to step in.

Sari Essayah, the chairperson of the Christian Democrats, said the statement was a wet towel in the face of Finnish agriculture. Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre), in turn, declared that such taxes are “out of the question”.

Li Andersson, the chairperson of the Left Alliance, estimated that the value-added tax should ideally take into consideration the carbon footprints of all food products. “It could mean that the price of meat is proportionally higher because of its larger carbon footprint, but it should also lower the prices of some other food products,” she said.

“That’s the steering effect,” remarked Rinne.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi