Terry Leahy, CEO of Britain’s largest supermarket group, has attacked the government for its proliferation of red tape blocking Tesco’s demands for cuts in the taxes it claims are excessive.

Tesco posted profits in excess of £1bn (US$1.41bn) earlier this year, but Leahy maintains that the taxes the group pays effectively add up to 51%.

Speaking yesterday [Tuesday] to delegates at a British Retail Consortium conference in London, Leahy called for the government to admit the “folly of its argument to regulate and interfere” with retailers, and to aid competitiveness in the retail sector by cutting through the “brambles of regulations”.

“Many still think that regulating more is, in some way, in the public’s interest. The truth is that clumsy, ill-thought-through regulation can actually harm it,” he insisted.

He spoke of the need for a “cultural change” in government to enable a “seemingly small flick of the tiller in Whitehall” and a reduction in costs for customers and taxpayers.

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 “It is an irony,” he added, “that one of the sectors that is most heavily taxed is also by far the biggest source of new employment in the UK”.