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One billion franc Swiss winter Olympic bid sparks backlash

11 hours ago

On Wednesday, Switzerland’s Federal Council said it would stand behind the country’s winter Olympic bid to the tune of nearly one billion francs, according to newspaper 20 Minutes.
© Erix2005 | Dreamstime
The town of Sion, in Valais, is throwing its Olympic hat into the ring as the centerpiece for the 2026 winter games. Other cantons would also host certain events.
In autumn 2019, a choice will be made between Sion, and other possible contenders, including Innsbruck (Austria), Calgary (Canada), Sapporo (Japan), Erzurum (Turkey), Almaty (Kazakhstan), Stockholm (Sweden) and Salt Lake City (US).
Switzerland’s federal government would act as a backstop to cover an expected games operating loss of CHF 827 million. Costs covered by the federal government, including bid costs (8 million),

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One billion franc Swiss winter Olympic bid sparks backlash

11 hours ago

On Wednesday, Switzerland’s Federal Council said it would stand behind the country’s winter Olympic bid to the tune of nearly one billion francs, according to newspaper 20 Minutes.
© Erix2005 | Dreamstime
The town of Sion, in Valais, is throwing its Olympic hat into the ring as the centerpiece for the 2026 winter games. Other cantons would also host certain events.
In autumn 2019, a choice will be made between Sion, and other possible contenders, including Innsbruck (Austria), Calgary (Canada), Sapporo (Japan), Erzurum (Turkey), Almaty (Kazakhstan), Stockholm (Sweden) and Salt Lake City (US).
Switzerland’s federal government would act as a backstop to cover an expected games operating loss of CHF 827 million. Costs covered by the federal government, including bid costs (8 million),

Read More »

Swiss government announces TV tax cut ahead of vote to eliminate it

22 hours ago

On Wednesday, the Federal Council said it will cut Switzerland’s TV-Radio tax from CHF 451 to CHF 365 annually from 2019.
© Tammy Mcallister | Dreamstime
According to Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard, the cut is made possible by cost savings from simplifying the system and an increase in the numbers who will pay it – everyone will soon pay, not just those with a receiving device.
At CHF 365, it will still be high compared to what Brits pay for the BBC. There, households are charged £147 (CHF 190) annually.
Many are unhappy with the Swiss fee, and a popular vote, aimed at scrapping it, is scheduled for spring next year. The No Billag initiative aims to eliminate the fee and the broadcaster in its current form.
The question in some minds will be whether the new price will persuade enough to

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End of tax-free online shopping delayed by a year

1 day ago

Last year Switzerland’s government announced plans to change the rules on charging VAT on imported goods.
© Rido | Dreamstime
Currently, most things ordered abroad and sent through the post to Switzerland that attract VAT of less than CHF 5, are waived through customs free of charge.
This means if you buy clothing worth less than CHF 62.50, or books worth less than CHF 200, there is no import charge – a VAT charge of 8% on CHF 62.50 of clothing, and a VAT charge of 2.5% on CHF 200 of books, both come to CHF 5. It is important to note that freight charges are included when calculating the parcel’s value.
The new rules, which require all foreign retailers generating annual global revenue of more than CHF 100,000 a year to charge Swiss VAT regardless of order value, were to come into force on

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The new 10 Swiss franc note hand mystery

8 days ago

The third in a series of gorgeous new Swiss franc bank notes will be released by the Swiss National Bank (SNB) on October 18th. The 10-franc note keeps its yellow colour, but most everything else in the design and construction is different.
What’s most remarkable about the new bank note? Not the 40 centimes or so it takes to make each note, nor that each note is projected to last only about a year. Not the sophisticated security measures, including multiple layers of transparent and inked polymers, paper and other materials, plus other features embedded to combat counterfeiting – all this is done in Zürich by Orell Füssli.Most remarkable is what this note, like the rest of the new series, does not have. Swiss francs,

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The new 10 Swiss franc note hand mystery

9 days ago

The third in a series of gorgeous new Swiss franc bank notes will be released by the Swiss National Bank (SNB) on October 18th. The 10-franc note keeps its yellow colour, but most everything else in the design and construction is different.
Photo credit: SNB
What’s most remarkable about the new bank note? Not the 40 centimes or so it takes to make each note, nor that each note is projected to last only about a year. Not the sophisticated security measures, including multiple layers of transparent and inked polymers, paper and other materials, plus other features embedded to combat counterfeiting – all this is done in Zürich by Orell Füssli.
Most remarkable is what this note, like the rest of the new series, does not have. Swiss francs, like most world currencies, have long featured notable

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3 million francs of gold and silver found in Swiss sewers

9 days ago

© Iurii Konoval | Dreamstime Call it “dirty money” if you wish, because there’s about CHF 3 million in gold and silver found each year in Swiss sewage. But no one is going to get rich, according to a just-published report by the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag). Recovering the estimated …

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3 million francs of gold and silver found in Swiss sewers

10 days ago

Call it “dirty money” if you wish, because there’s about CHF 3 million in gold and silver found each year in Swiss sewage.
© Iurii Konoval | Dreamstime
But no one is going to get rich, according to a just-published report by the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag).
Recovering the estimated CHF 1.5 million in gold, and the same in silver, that passes through Swiss wastewater each year, wouldn’t be cost-effective, says the report. On the bright side, the concentrations measured pose no environmental or health threat.
These precious metals don’t come from jewelry thrown down the toilet by jilted lovers. Rather, they are among numerous trace elements used increasingly in high-tech and medical industries. Other metals include gadolinium (used in luminous paints)

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Talk of cutting Swiss pensions paid to foreign residents

13 days ago

© Michael Smith | Dreamstime – Click to enlarge According to Le Matin, Jean-Luc Addor, a parliamentarian and member of the Swiss People’s Party (UDC/SVP), wants to know what savings could be made if pensions paid to those abroad were adjusted for living costs in those countries. According to the newspaper, after the rejection of …

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Talk of cutting Swiss pensions paid to foreign residents

15 days ago

Le Matin.
According to Le Matin, Jean-Luc Addor, a parliamentarian and member of the Swiss People’s Party (UDC/SVP), wants to know what savings could be made if pensions paid to those abroad were adjusted for living costs in those countries.
© Michael Smith | Dreamstime
According to the newspaper, after the rejection of the vote to reform Swiss pensions, Addor said that the rejected reform was aimed at guaranteeing the financing of the pension system over the coming years, as well as maintaining the level of payments. But that we missed an essential element: the pensioners who have huge difficulty making ends meet live in Switzerland. He thinks parliament should consider the man in the street who sometimes emigrates, not out of choice but out of necessity, to benefit from the difference

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Aging population explains only a small part of rising Swiss healthcare costs

16 days ago

There are many reasons why Swiss healthcare costs continue to climb. One, often cited, is changing demographics, jargon for more older people. But how much of an impact is this having?
© Sandor Kacso | Dreamstime
A set of figures for 2014, estimate that the share of health spending on the 28.5% of the population over 60, was 60.7% of the total, an oversized slice.
On average, the health system spent nearly 4 times as much on someone over 60 than on an average person under that age, in 2014.
So what impact has an aging population had on healthcare costs?
In the four years from 2010 to 2014, per capita Swiss health care costs rose 10.2% from an average of CHF 689 a month to CHF 759 a month, or CHF 9,112 per annum.
All other things kept equal, the demographic shift in age over this period

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Swiss 2018 health premiums unveiled. Brace yourself.

19 days ago

© Ognjen Stevanovic | Dreamstime Yesterday, the Swiss government released health insurance premiums for 2018. There are price hikes across the board, particularly in French-speaking Switzerland. Next year, the price of standard compulsory insurance for an adult with a CHF 300 deductible will rise 4% on average. The cost varies by canton. Prices rises range …

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Swiss want TV tax cut by half, according to survey

21 days ago

© Jacek Chabraszewski | Dreamstime – Click to enlarge Some who move to Switzerland might not be aware that they are almost certainly required to pay one of the world’s highest broadcasting fees. An annual Swiss licence costs CHF 451.10 per household. A successful vote in 2015 changed the rules on who must pay the fee. From …

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Swiss 2018 health premiums unveiled. Brace yourself.

21 days ago

Yesterday, the Swiss government released health insurance premiums for 2018. There are price hikes across the board, particularly in French-speaking Switzerland.
© Ognjen Stevanovic | Dreamstime
Next year, the price of standard compulsory insurance for an adult with a CHF 300 deductible will rise 4% on average. The cost varies by canton. Prices rises range from 1.6% to 6.4%.
Health premiums for children will rise by an average of 5%, more than those for adults. This is driven by a shortfall between past premiums paid and the health costs associated with children.
On average, premiums have risen 3.7% annually over the last 10 years.
In the cantons of Appenzell-Innerrhoden, Glarus, Luzern, Nidwalden, Obwalden, Schwytz, Uri and Zug, the average rise next year will be under 3%. In Geneva,

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Swiss police issue WhatsApp message fine

21 days ago

20 Minutes.
After noticing a roadside police check, a resident of the canton of St Gallen sent a message to a WhatsApp group warning of the check. Not long after he received a nasty surprise.
© Marcelmooij | Dreamstime
Speaking to the newspaper 20 Minuten, the man said: “Me and several others received a penalty notice this week. I received a fine of 850 francs because I warned of a police check via WhatsApp. What I wrote in the group is private and has nothing to do with anyone else. Why are the police involved?”
According to the law, this is only illegal if it is done publicly, so the case appears to hinge on the definition of public. The man involved told 20 Minuten that the group has around 200 members.
20 Minuten contacted Roman Dobler, a spokesperson for the public prosecutor, who

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Housing in Zurich and Geneva only moderately overvalued, says UBS

22 days ago

© Nik Frey | Dreamstime The UBS Global Real Estate Bubble Index 2017 describes housing in Zurich and Geneva as only moderately overvalued. The two Swiss cities rank 6th (Geneva) and 9th (Zurich) in a list of 20 selected global cities. The top eight: Toronto, Stockholm, Munich, Vancouver, Sydney, London, Hong Kong and Amsterdam are …

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Survey offers clues to why Swiss rejected last Sunday’s pension reform

22 days ago

A survey by Tamedia offers clues to why 52.7% of Swiss voters rejected the pension reform plan that was put to a vote last Sunday.
© Michelle Meiklejohn – Dreamstime
20% of those voting “no” thought it was a pseudo reform that didn’t go far enough, while 26% felt it left too much of a burden on younger taxpayers.
In 1981, when the life expectancy of an average Swiss woman was 79.2 years, the average time spent collecting the state pension was 15.2 years. Now an average Swiss woman can expect 21.3 years of state pension – life expectancy has risen to 85.3 years and the current official retirement age is 64.
This means that since 1981, the expected number of pension years for a Swiss woman has gone up 40%. Pushing the retirement age up to 67 would only bring this period down to 18.3 years,

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Housing in Zurich and Geneva only moderately overvalued, says UBS

22 days ago

The UBS Global Real Estate Bubble Index 2017 describes housing in Zurich and Geneva as only moderately overvalued. The two Swiss cities rank 6th (Geneva) and 9th (Zurich) in a list of 20 selected global cities.
© Nik Frey | Dreamstime
The top eight: Toronto, Stockholm, Munich, Vancouver, Sydney, London, Hong Kong and Amsterdam are all classified as bubble risk. Only Chicago is undervalued. Since 2012 apartment price are down 10% in Geneva, but up 10% in Zurich.
Matthias Holzhey, a Swiss real estate investment expert at UBS said: “Favorable financing conditions keep demand for home ownership buoyant. Buying a 60 square metre apartment in Zurich costs a skilled service worker six years’ income – a low level compared to cities globally.”
Low costs of financing also help. Low mortgage rates

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Swiss want TV tax cut by half, according to survey

23 days ago

Some who move to Switzerland might not be aware that they are almost certainly required to pay one of the world’s highest broadcasting fees. An annual Swiss licence costs CHF 451.10 per household.
© Jacek Chabraszewski | Dreamstime
A successful vote in 2015 changed the rules on who must pay the fee. From 2019, it will be compulsory for anyone with a primary or secondary residence in Switzerland to pay it, effectively making it a tax on all households. At a new lower price of CHF 400 It will become a little cheaper.
Many are unhappy with the fee, and a popular vote, aimed at scrapping it, is scheduled for spring next year. The No Billag initiative aims to eliminate the fee and the broadcaster in its current form.
A recent survey, designed to test the waters ahead of the upcoming vote, found

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Illegal workers cost Swiss social security 320 million, according to estimate

28 days ago

Many people employed in Swiss homes are undeclared. According to one estimate the amount of unpaid social security taxes on the total paid to these people could be as high as CHF 320 million a year.
© Tomislav Pinter | Dreamstime
Quitt.ch, a company that helps people with the administration around employing home help, reckons between 200,000 and 250,000 of the 400,000 people employed in homes in Switzerland are unregistered, a figure supported by a number of other studies.
According to quitt.ch, this would equate to between CHF 170 million and CHF 320 million in lost receipts.
The economist Friedrich Schneider, told blick.ch that in 2015 a sum of around CHF 43 billion, went undeclared. This is around 6.5% of Swiss GDP.
This sum, if collected, would certainly help to plug the social

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Geneva and Lausanne remain Switzerland’s toughest home markets

September 16, 2017

© Nwanda76 | Dreamstime – Click to enlarge Home vacancy rates in Switzerland’s main cities have all risen over the last few years, bringing some hope to those looking for a place to live. The latest 2017 data confirm this trend. While these percentage shifts might appear big, very low vacancy rates underly them. On …

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Geneva and Lausanne remain Switzerland’s toughest home markets

September 15, 2017

Home vacancy rates in Switzerland’s main cities have all risen over the last few years, bringing some hope to those looking for a place to live. The latest 2017 data confirm this trend.
© Nwanda76 | Dreamstime
Over the last five years vacancy rates have risen by between 18% and 49% in the main cities of Zurich (+32%), Bern (+37%), Basel (18%), Lausanne (+49%) and Geneva (+38%).
While these percentage shifts might appear big, very low vacancy rates underly them. On 1 June 2012, none of these cities had a vacancy rate above 1%. Zurich (0.29%), Bern (0.48%), Basel (0.13%), Lausanne (0.28%) and Geneva (0.21%) were all well below 1% vacancy rates.
By 1 June 2017, Bern (1.29%) was above the 1% mark, Zurich (0.89%) and Basel (0.73%) were close to it, while Lausanne (0.57%) and Geneva (0.55%) only

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Swiss mobile roaming charges – a glimmer of hope

September 14, 2017

© Ocusfocus | Dreamstime Switzerland’s federal council, the country’s seven-person executive or cabinet, has come up with a plan to cut those exorbitant mobile roaming phone bills that many of us return home to after trips abroad, an experience which hurts even more now roaming charges have been eliminated for EU residents. The roaming proposal …

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Swiss mobile roaming charges – a glimmer of hope

September 12, 2017

Switzerland’s federal council, the country’s seven-person executive or cabinet, has come up with a plan to cut those exorbitant mobile roaming phone bills that many of us return home to after trips abroad, an experience which hurts even more now roaming charges have been eliminated for EU residents.
© Ocusfocus | Dreamstime
The roaming proposal is part of a wide-ranging revision to Switzerland’s telecommunications laws, the first since 2007. The updated laws would give the government new tools to tackle excessive roaming charges.
The report that comes with the proposed revision says excessive Swiss roaming charges are evidence of a lack of competition. Because roaming comes as part of a package consumers cannot shop around and buy it separately. This leaves operators free to charge away.

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Swiss mobile roaming charges – a glimmer of hope

September 12, 2017

Switzerland’s federal council, the country’s seven-person executive or cabinet, has come up with a plan to cut those exorbitant mobile roaming phone bills that many of us return home to after trips abroad, an experience which hurts even more now roaming charges have been eliminated for EU residents.
© Ocusfocus | Dreamstime
The roaming proposal is part of a wide-ranging revision to Switzerland’s telecommunications laws, the first since 2007. The updated laws would give the government new tools to tackle excessive roaming charges.
The report that comes with the proposed revision says excessive Swiss roaming charges are evidence of a lack of competition. Because roaming comes as part of a package consumers cannot shop around and buy it separately. This leaves operators free to charge away.

Read More »

The number of Swiss brewers continues to rise despite declining beer consumption

September 9, 2017

A recent report shows a 2% drop in average Swiss beer consumption in 2016. Over the last 20 years it has dropped 4% to 54.9 litres per person.
On its own this would be no cause for alarm, however in 2016, the number of breweries in Switzerland rose by 21% to 753. Since 2011, the number is up 118% from 345. The website bov.ch lists 794 breweries in Switzerland so it is possible that the number has grown further since government statistics were compiled.
And while falling average consumption has been offset by an increase in the number of beer drinkers it hasn’t been enough to lift Switzerland’s consumption of the amber liquid, which declined slightly to 4.6 million hectolitres.
This leaves more beer makers chasing the

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Switzerland’s home ownership illusion

September 8, 2017

© Tomasz Markowski | Dreamstime – Click to enlarge When 10-year mortgage interest rates fall to 1%, home ownership becomes a very attractive alternative to renting. A recent report on home ownership shows why home ownership remains out of reach of the average Swiss household despite very low interest rates. The report, by Credit Suisse, …

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Switzerland’s home ownership illusion

September 8, 2017

© Tomasz Markowski | Dreamstime – Click to enlarge When 10-year mortgage interest rates fall to 1%, home ownership becomes a very attractive alternative to renting. A recent report on home ownership shows why home ownership remains out of reach of the average Swiss household despite very low interest rates. The report, by Credit Suisse, …

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Swiss retailers called on to remove palm oil from their products

September 7, 2017

Two Swiss NGOs have started a petition calling for Swiss retailers to reduce or remove palm oil from their products.
Present in many processed foods, cosmetics and detergents, the ingredient has a bad reputation.
The NGOs Bread for All and the Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund want to see a reduction in palm oil consumption. They believe voluntary initiatives by the palm oil sector to clean up the industry have done nothing to address the real problems associated with its production and think buying and consuming less of it is the best answer.
In their press release they explain that palm oil production has tripled over the last 30 years, partly because it is so cheap. However, other high costs go unnoticed. In particular,

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