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

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday
Zurich is beautiful but not overly empathetic. Photo by Fabrtce Coffrini / AFP
Find out what's going on today in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

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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