Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday
Tax relief for individuals and families, plans for a denser rail network and other news from Switzerland on Thursday.
Increase in deductions for health insurance premiums in direct federal tax
The Federal Council has decided to increase the amount of deductions for health insurance premiums and interest on savings capital.
Single people will be able to deduct 3,000 francs annually, against 1,700 currently. For married couples, deductions will rise from 3,500 to 6,000 francs, and per child or needy person from 700 to 1,200 francs.
While the new tax rate is beneficial for individual and families, it will cost the government 315 million francs per year.
Yesterday’s rain not enough to counteract drought
The sometimes-heavy downpour on Wednesday might have brought a bit of respite from the oppressive heat, but was insufficient in preventing drought.
One reason is that the rain was not evenly distributed, with some areas of Switzerland getting more water than others, according to Nicolas Borgognon, meteorologist at MeteoSwiss.
Considering how dry the soil is, 10 times as much rain would be needed to penetrate the deeper levels of the earth and make a lasting difference.
“Rains are expected to be a little better organised on Friday, then there is hope that a more active degradation will occur early next week between Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning", Borgognon said.
Swiss Federal Raiways (SBB) to prioritise regional trains
The government wants to focus on the development and expansion of the regional traffic, according to Transport Minister Simonetta Sommaruga, who announced the "reorientation of strategy in the development of rail".
"The goal is no longer to shorten the journey between Zurich and Bern by another five minutes, but to look at where there are most people who could use the train more," she said.
Concretely, this means increased regional traffic, the development of stations in the suburbs to accomodate more InterRegio and RegioExpress trains.
Switzerland ‘must quickly improve’ its crisis management
While Switzerland is well known for its organisational skills and attention to detail, these abilities don’t always show up in emergency situations, according to a new report by the Federal Chancellery.
Though a “general strategy was recognisable” during the Covid pandemic, “forward-looking crisis management has sometimes been lacking”, Chancellor Walter Turnheer told the media in Bern on Wednesday.
He cited “the insufficient preparation of the federal administration and the cantons for the magnitude of the second wave of the pandemic, in autumn 2020”. Specifically, “despite the increase in the number of cases, cantonal governments were reluctant to take action and were divided on which ones to take. There was dissension among cantons and between the the cantons and federal authorities”.
Turnheer concluded that as “there will be other unexpected crises, as with Ukraine, we must have good structures, but our political processes are relatively long. And crises don't wait”.
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