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Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday

Find out what's going on today in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday
Zurich is beautiful but not overly empathetic. Photo by Fabrtce Coffrini / AFP

Swiss public finances have decreased

A new study that looked at the financial consequences of the pandemic on cantons, towns and municipalities, found that many suffer from a substantial drop in tax revenue and a wave of debt.

The study, by PwC accounting firm, indicates that tax revenue collected by public authorities will be considerably lower for 2020 and 2021, while individual taxpayers will be impacted less.  

The study’s authors also expect a surge in debt for years to come. The increase in indebtedness in Switzerland until 2023 will be 36 percent for the cantons and up to 72 percent for municipalities.

As lack of tax revenue will strain budgets over the coming years, implementing public programmes and projects on cantonal and municipal levels will be challenging, according to the study’s co-author Roland Schegg.

Good news on the pandemic front

The epidemiological situation in Switzerland has improved significantly in the past few weeks.

As the number of fully vaccinated residents is approaching  2 million, fewer contaminations, hospitalisations and deaths  are being recorded in Switzerland.

The rate of infections declined to 98.74 cases per 100,000 people, down from 274.54 a month ago, according to The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

And R-rate, which indicates how quickly the virus spreads through the country, dipped to 0.75 – well below the treshold of 1.

This graph shows the decline in the R-Rate in the past three weeks.

READ MORE: ANALYSIS: What has Switzerland done right and wrong in managing the Covid pandemic?

Cantons maintain blacklists of ‘bad’ insurance payers

MPs in the Council of States narrowly denied the motion that would forbid the cantons to keep lists of people who don’t pay their obligatory health insurance premiums.

Cantonal officials will be permitted to ‘punish’ delinquent policyholders by allowing medical treatment only for vital emergencies.

However, Health Minister Alain Berset argued that “these blacklists will not make things better. By refusing to treat bad payers, we only worsen their state of health and the care then becomes even more expensive”.

The National Council will now weigh in on this issue.

Can Zurich become the most empathetic city in the world?

The residents of Switzerland’s largest city have a reputation – whether deserved or not —as being arrogant and stressed out.

This has prompted two locals, Tanja Walliser and Sonja Wolfensberger, to make Zurich residents more empathetic — that is, more understanding and attuned to the needs of their fellow city dwellers.  

In order to achieve this goal, the two women have been holding courses on empathy and conflict resolution, based on the concept of nonviolent communication.

Course participants can pay whatever they want to contribute; to cover the costs, Walliser and Wolfensberger have started a crowdfunding campaign.

For more information, on how to become more empathetic, click here.

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For members


Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday

Find out what's going on today in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday
MPs debate tax breaks for childcare services. Photo by Rashid Sadykov on Unsplash

Geneva vaccination centres will remain open despite USA-Russia summit

Although certain parts of the city will be shut on Wednesday due to the meeting this week between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin, health authorities have said that Geneva’s vaccination facilities will continue to operate.

Even if some modifications will have to be made, “their impact will be minimal”, according to the cantonal pharmacist Nathalie Vernaz-Hegi.

READ MORE: Historic Swiss lakeside villa spruced up for Biden-Putin talks

Night trains and buses will resume their activity in July

Suspended since November, following the Federal Council’s decision to close restaurants at 11 pm, public transportation has not, or rarely, operated during the night since that time.
This is set to change in July, especially as there are now enough train drivers, particularly in the German-speaking Switzerland.
Shortages still remain in the French-speaking areas, as well as Ticino, but they should be resolved by fall.

Parents might be able to deduct more taxes for daycare costs

The parliament is debating about increasing the deduction for childcare costs, from 6,500 to 10,000 francs.

MP Christa Markwalder proposed this motion, arguing that it would allow a better reconciliation of professional and family life, as well as better integration of women into the labour market.

Opponents, however, claim  that such a deduction would lead to considerable tax losses, without having any positive effect on equality between men and women.

However, the proposal has every chance of succeeding, supporters say.

READ MORE: How to decide where to live in Switzerland based on affordability

Deportations of foreign criminals should be improved for minor cases, MPs say

The National Council has widely adopted a motion proposing several changes to criminal law relating to the expulsion of foreigners who commit crimes in Switzerland,

The motion proposes three options.

Firstly, the Public Prosecutor’s Office should be empowered to order expulsion in minor cases. Today, only a court can make this decision.

Secondly, foreign defendants without a residence permit or who entered Switzerland solely with the intention of committing a crime, should no longer be entitled to a defense.

Finally, the list of offenses must be re-examined to exclude minor ones; this includes contraventions leading to compulsory expulsion, in particular when they were committed by young foreigners who grew up in Switzerland.

Swiss residents opt to invest their money in pension funds

People in Switzerland have a marked preference for placing their money in pension funds and life insurance over other investment options, according to a study by Boston Consulting Group.

The study showed that the two investment vehicles accounted for 41 percent of the estimated $3.3 trillion of financial wealth in 2020.

Next — 32 percent — are deposits in foreign currencies, followed by equities and investment funds (23 percent).

At the end of 2020, the share of Swiss financial assets was more than 6 percent of  Western Europe’s.

If you have any questions about life in Switzerland, ideas for articles or news tips for The Local please get in touch with us at [email protected]