Energy For Members

Why the Swiss government doesn’t want a fuel-comparison app

Helena Bachmann in Geneva
Helena Bachmann in Geneva - [email protected] • 14 Sep, 2022 Updated Wed 14 Sep 2022 10:41 CEST
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(Photo by Dawn McDonald on Unsplash)

While Austrian consumers are using an app to find cheapest gasoline prices, Switzerland's Federal Council has so far rejected the idea of creating a similar one for Switzerland.

The digital calculator that shows which service stations in their region have the cheapest petrol at any given moment would be of much use to Swiss motorists these days.

A litre of fuel now exceeds 2 francs across Switzerland, but some stations, especially those far from main cities, have slightly lower prices.

A number of MPs have urged the government to introduce a similar app in Switzerland, pointing to “the lack of transparency in petrol and diesel prices in Switzerland. This allows oil companies to raise prices well above market costs, at the expense of consumers”.

Austria, on the other hand, “has succeeded in solving this problem by relying on market transparency”, deputies said.

However, the Federal Council is not as impressed by the Austrian model, noting that while energy prices have indeed soared in the past months, inflation in Switzerland “remains moderate compared to other countries”.

“In July 2022, it was 3.4 percent —around 5 percent lower than in the eurozone”, authorities said.

They added that the current forecasts for inflation in Switzerland are more favourable elsewhere in Europe as well — 2.5 percent by the end of the year, which should fall to 1.4 percent in 2023.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why Switzerland’s inflation rate has stayed low compared to elsewhere

The Federal Council also argues that the post-Covid economic recovery will continue, although less vigorously than expected before the war in Ukraine.

In addition, Switzerland’s central bank, SNB, which is responsible for maintaining price stability, has enough instruments to thwart any further rise in inflation.

“The Federal Council therefore sees no need to act on gasoline”, the Federal Council said.

The government, however, doesn’t have the last word: MPs have submitted a motion in this regard, which will be decided on during the autumn session of the Parliament, which begins on Monday.

This is not the only case where the government is not intervening to help consumers during these difficult times.

Though left-leaning parties are urging the Federal Council to offer financial help to the hardest-hit households, it has no plans to do so.

As Finance Minister Ueli Maurer said in an interview, even if energy prices were to remain at a high level in the coming years, the Federal Council does not plan to intervene.

“The state cannot suddenly subsidise a market and no longer be able to get out of it afterwards”, he said.

READ MORE: What are Switzerland’s four main challenges right now?

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Helena Bachmann in Geneva 2022/09/14 10:41

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