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Corruption report: nepotism and conflicts of interest should be Switzerland’s focus

7 days ago

The 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), published on 31 January 2023, shows that most countries are failing to stop corruption. The CPI ranks 180 countries and territories around the world by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, scoring on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

© Ngampol Thongsai | Dreamstime.comThe global average remains unchanged for over a decade at just 43 out of 100. More than two-thirds of countries score below 50, while 26 countries have fallen to their lowest scores yet. Despite concerted efforts and hard-won gains by some, 155 countries have made no significant progress against corruption or have declined since 2012, said the report.

Denmark remained at the top with a score of 90, two points higher than in 2021. In second

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Unclaimed Swiss pensions reach 5.6 billion in 2022

12 days ago

When workers in Switzerland change employers they typically take their salary-based pensions with them. However, if they leave the country without making any pension transfer arrangements, after six months, their pension money ends up with the Substitute Occupational Benefit Institution, a kind of backstop holding place for forgotten pensions.

© Ginasanders | Dreamstime.comAt the the end of 2022, the organisation held around CHF 5.6 billion of unclaimed money, reported RTS. The names, social security numbers and birth dates of beneficiaries are known. However, current addresses and contact details are missing for 62% of owners.

Many of the beneficiaries lose track of their pensions after changing jobs or leaving the country. Most of the time they are eventually reunited with the

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Switzerland has too many pigs, leading to animal welfare concerns

13 days ago

After slaughtering and freezing 12,000 pigs, Switzerland still has 50,000 more pigs than it can digest, reported RTS. With Swiss pig farms so full, vets are concerned animal welfare may be compromised.

Photo by Mark Stebnicki on Pexels.comDuring the Covid pandemic when movements across national borders were restricted, Swiss farmers increased the number of pigs. When restrictions eased and imports returned Switzerland was left with a surplus of animals.

The Swiss porc market is unregulated, so producers must react to changes in supply and demand. The current excess is pushing prices down, encouraging farmers to keep their pigs for longer. And older bigger pigs take up more space.

Suisseporcs, an association representing pig farmers, described the lack of space as exceptional.

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Electricity prices could rise more in 2024, suggests head of Swiss regulator

19 days ago

At a meeting in Bern on 19 January 2023, Werner Luginbühl, the head of Elcom, Switzerland’s electricity regulator, called on the sector to be careful to manage consumer expectations, reported RTS.
Photo by SHVETS production on Pexels.comAccording to Luginbühl, many consumers are confused by Switzerland’s rising electricity prices. Some think the electricity consumed in Switzerland comes from hydro and nuclear production where production costs have been unaffected. This understanding does not fit with rising prices – up on average by 27% since last year – leaving people confused.
In reality, there is a significant mismatch between Switzerland’s production and consumption. While the amounts of electricity produced and consumed in Switzerland over a year are roughly

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Professional training boosts pay by 46% in Switzerland

20 days ago

Switzerland offers workers the possibility of obtaining professional qualifications while working. Around 27,500 people graduate from these federally recognised higher vocational education programmes every year.

© Elmirex2009 | Dreamstime.comSix years after graduating from these programmes the median income for a full-time job is about CHF 7,800 per month, compared with the CHF 5,300 received five years before obtaining professional training or a tertiary qualification. This average pay boost of CHF 2,500 represents a raise of around 46%.

The earnings boost varies significantly depending on the qualification obtained, the field of training and gender. In three fields of colleges of professional education and training, the training phase is linked to substantial income decreases as

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Electricity prices could rise more in 2024, suggests head of Swiss regulator

20 days ago

At a meeting in Bern on 19 January 2023, Werner Luginbühl, the head of Elcom, Switzerland’s electricity regulator, called on the sector to be careful to manage consumer expectations, reported RTS.

Photo by SHVETS production on Pexels.comAccording to Luginbühl, many consumers are confused by Switzerland’s rising electricity prices. Some think the electricity consumed in Switzerland comes from hydro and nuclear production where production costs have been unaffected. This understanding does not fit with rising prices – up on average by 27% since last year – leaving people confused.

In reality, there is a significant mismatch between Switzerland’s production and consumption. While the amounts of electricity produced and consumed in Switzerland over a year are roughly the same, imports

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Cantons caught short by Swiss National Bank losses

26 days ago

On 9 January 2023, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) announced it had made a loss of CHF 132 billion over the course of 2022. Despite the near certainty of the losses and the resulting absence of SNB payments to cantons, a number of cantons included the extra revenue in their budgets, reported RTS.

© David Taljat | Dreamstime.comThe SNB has made payments to cantons for around a decade and so adding the windfall had become routine. However, some might argue the last decade of SNB profits has been the exception rather than rule.

Economist Paul Dembinski told RTS that while the SNB is an unusual company it is never the less a corporation. If its equity shrinks from CHF 200 billion to CHF 60 billion we must ask questions. At this point we are heading towards a key threshold, he said.

If

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Swiss unemployment lowest in 20 years

26 days ago

On 9 January 2023, Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) published the latest figures for the Swiss labor market in 2022 showing unemployment at its lowest rate for 20 years.

Photo by Anamul Rezwan on Pexels.com2022 saw the development of a labour market increasingly characterised by a shortage of workers and an unemployment rate of 2.1%, said SECO. The unemployment rate fell 0.5 percentage points from 2.6% in 2021 to its lowest in 20 years.

Youth unemployment (15 to 24 year olds) fell 0.4 percentage points to 2.0% and the unemployment rate of older workers (50 to 64 year olds) dropped to 2.1% (-0.6 percentage points lower than 2021).

Economic recovery and falling unemployment made it increasingly difficult for companies to attract workers over the course of

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Swiss unemployment lowest in 20 years

26 days ago

On 9 January 2023, Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) published the latest figures for the Swiss labor market in 2022 showing unemployment at its lowest rate for 20 years.
Photo by Anamul Rezwan on Pexels.com2022 saw the development of a labour market increasingly characterised by a shortage of workers and an unemployment rate of 2.1%, said SECO. The unemployment rate fell 0.5 percentage points from 2.6% in 2021 to its lowest in 20 years.
Youth unemployment (15 to 24 year olds) fell 0.4 percentage points to 2.0% and the unemployment rate of older workers (50 to 64 year olds) dropped to 2.1% (-0.6 percentage points lower than 2021).
Economic recovery and falling unemployment made it increasingly difficult for companies to attract workers

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Switzerland’s worker shortage putting pressure on unemployed to change career

26 days ago

By international standards, unemployment payments are generous in Switzerland – typically 70% of salary. But they come with strict requirements for recipients to show they are engaging in actions deemed necessary to find work. With record numbers of unfilled jobs, pressure is now being put on some to change career, reported RTS.

Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels.comAccording to one report, there are more than 100,000 unfilled jobs in Switzerland. At the same time by the end of December 2022 there were around 96,941 unemployed (registered job seekers), a number that rises higher when calculated based on the International Labour Organisation definition of unemployment – 212,000 (Q3 2022).

There are many reasons why job vacancies and unemployment might coexist. One is frictional

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Switzerland’s worker shortage putting pressure on unemployed to change career

26 days ago

By international standards, unemployment payments are generous in Switzerland – typically 70% of salary. But they come with strict requirements for recipients to show they are engaging in actions deemed necessary to find work. With record numbers of unfilled jobs, pressure is now being put on some to change career, reported RTS.
Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels.comAccording to one report, there are more than 100,000 unfilled jobs in Switzerland. At the same time by the end of December 2022 there were around 96,941 unemployed (registered job seekers), a number that rises higher when calculated based on the International Labour Organisation definition of unemployment – 212,000 (Q3 2022).
There are many reasons why job vacancies and unemployment might coexist. One

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Swiss rents and property prices up in 2022

January 10, 2023

© Ocskay Mark | Dreamstime.com A sharp rise in rent in December 2022 (+1.1%) left the average Swiss rent 4.3% higher than at the beginning of 2022, according to the Swiss Real Estate Offer Index, published on 4 January 2023 by SMG Swiss Marketplace Group. This annual jump of 4.3% exceeds the annual CPI increase …

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Swiss rents and property prices up in 2022

January 6, 2023

A sharp rise in rent in December 2022 (+1.1%) left the average Swiss rent 4.3% higher than at the beginning of 2022, according to the Swiss Real Estate Offer Index, published on 4 January 2023 by SMG Swiss Marketplace Group. This annual jump of 4.3% exceeds the annual CPI increase of 2.8% announced this week.

© Ocskay Mark | Dreamstime.comIncreases varied significantly by region. The highest rent rise was recorded in Ticino (+8.4%). The jump in Greater Zurich (+6.1%) was also above average. Around Lake Geneva, a typical hot spot, rents rose by 3.8%. Across all the other regions, increases were lower.

In addition, buying a home became more expensive. Across 2022, average home prices rose by 4.7%. Apartments led the way with an average price increase of 6.2%. During December 2022,

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No money likely from the Swiss central bank in 2023

January 6, 2023

In good years the Swiss National Bank (SNB) distributes a portion of its profits to a number cantonal tax authorities, boosting their income. However, there will likely be no payments in 2023, reported the newspaper 20 Minutes.

© Santiaga | Dreamstime.comWhen the SNB was trying to moderate the rise of the franc it bought large quantities of assets denominated in foreign currencies. In a rising market, these assets gained in value, producing profits. However, more recently, these assets have lost significant value, leading to losses. Over the first 9 months of 2022 the SNB generated a loss of CHF 140 billion. On 31 December 2022, Thomas Jordan, the bank’s president, said there was little hope the remaining three months of 2022 would change the situation.

In 2021, the SNB paid

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Cantonal and municipal tax burden to fall in 18 of 26 cantons in 2023

January 6, 2023

The percentage of economic output demanded by the tax authorities, sometimes referred to as the misery index, is set to fall in 18 of Switzerland’s 26 cantons in 2023, according to data published by the government this week.

Basel – this years winner – © | Dreamstime.comIn 2023, the misery index will fall most in the cantons of Basel-City (-1.9 percentage points), Schaffhausen (-1.25), Obwalden (-0.75), Jura (-0.6), Solothurn (-0.55), Vaud (-0.55), Geneva (-0.45), Luzern (-0.35), Zurich (-0.35), St Gallen (-0.3) and Appenzell Innerrhoden (-0.25).

The average movement across all of Switzerland will be around -0.25 percentage points.

In the cantons of Ticino (+0.5), Appenzell Ausserrhoden (+0.5), Fribourg (+0.45), Valais (+0.3), Bern (+0.2), Aargau (+0.2) and Uri (0.1),

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Swiss inflation turns negative in December 2022

January 6, 2023

Over the month of December 2022, Switzerland’s consumer price index (CPI) fell by 0.2%, bringing the annual inflation rate for 2022 to +2.8%, according to Switzerland’s Federal Statistical Office (FSO).

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.comThe modest deflation during December 2022 was driven by several factors including falling prices for fuels and heating oil. The prices for fruiting vegetables also declined, along with the prices for medicines. In contrast, rents for holiday flats and the hire of private transport increased.

Over the year, the prices of fixed-line and mobile communication and medicines decreased, reducing the impact of rising energy and healthcare prices.

During 2022, prices for domestic products increased by 1.6% on average, while the prices of imported

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One in 20 jobs unfilled in Switzerland

December 30, 2022

As the end of 2022 approached, there were more than 250,000 unfilled jobs registered in Switzerland, equivalent to nearly one in every 20 jobs1.

Out of the 264,069 vacancies recorded, nurses, electricians and managers were the most sought after employees, reported SRF. Together these three categories made up 10% of vacancies.

On 15 November 2022, 6,995 nursing professionals were sought, 6,000 electricians and 3,917 software developers.

The supermarket Coop was the company seeking the greatest number of staff (3,006).

Geographically, the cantons of Zurich (59,318), Bern (42,280), Aargau (20,665), St. Gallen (17,370) and Luzern (16,703) led in terms of job vacancy numbers. Western French-speaking Switzerland had fewer vacancies per capita. Vaud, Switzerland’s third most

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Swiss gas consumption down nearly 30% in November

December 30, 2022

Switzerland consumed significantly less gas in November 2022, according to the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE).

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.comIn November 2022, Switzerland imported 3084 giga watt hours of gas, 29% less than the monthly November average of the prior five years, reported RTS. October 2022 saw a similar year on year decline (-40%).

However, despite lower consumption the amount spent on gas rose significantly. During November 2022, Switzerland paid CHF 430 million for the gas it imported – Switzerland produces none of its own gas and must import all the gas it uses – more than three times the sum spent in November 2021. The sum spent on gas in 2022 is expected to be around five times the figure for 2021.

More on this:RTS article (in French) – Take a 5

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Financial pessimism in Switzerland worst in 6 years

December 30, 2022

A survey published on 27 December 2022 shows Swiss consumer sentiment is at its lowest since 2017.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.comMore than one in four of those surveyed expects their financial situation to deteriorate. Rises in health insurance premiums and energy costs were cited as the main reasons for financial pessimism by the 27.5% of people expecting their financial situation to worsen. The same percentage was 13% in 2019, 17.6% in 2020 and 16% in 2021.

Unsurprisingly, the degree of pessimism rose as income declined. 41.8% of those with a household income less than CHF 4,000 per month were pessimistic, while 28.1% of those with CHF 4,000 to CHF 8,000 to spend expected their financial situation to get worse. A lower 21% of households with income over CHF 8,000 were

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1 in 4 changed health insurer this year

December 23, 2022

Sharply rising health insurance premiums appear to be a key driver behind 27% of people changing insurance provider in 2022, according to a survey by Comparis.

© stockcreations | Dreamstime.comAverage premiums for 2023 are 6.6% higher than those for 2022. This sharp rise in premiums was cited as a key factor for changing insurer by 61% of the 3,156 people surveyed by the price comparison website. Other reasons cited were a habit of regularly shopping around (47%) and poor service provided by respondents’ current insurer (44%). Most of those changing kept the same deductible (69%) and insurance model (62%).

Felix Schneuwly, a spokesperson for Comparis, said he thinks inflation also played a part in decisions to change insurer. Annual inflation in Switzerland at the end of November

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Covid: no exodus to the countryside, says study

December 23, 2022

On 22 December 2022, Switzerland’s Federal Housing Office (FHO) published a report entitled Housing preferences in the wake of the Covid pandemic, which shows only a modest shift in preferences for living in less densely populated areas.

Photo by Tranmautritam on Pexels.comLiving and relocation behaviour in Switzerland changed only slightly during the Covid pandemic, said FHO. A rising preference for less densely populated areas was observed however it was modest.

On 17 March 2020 when Switzerland’s first lockdown took place, many workers were required to work from home. This meant home suddenly also became a place of work. Extra space, outdoor areas and proximity to parks gained in importance. It was assumed by some that this would have an impact on the housing market. But looking

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Franco-Swiss deal reached on taxing remote workers

December 23, 2022

This week, after two years of negotiating, France and Switzerland reached an agreement on the tax treatment of workers employed in one country who work remotely in the other, announced the Swiss government.

© Itzhaki | Dreamstime.comFrom 1 January 2023, up to 40% of an employee’s annual working hours can be worked from home without having any impact on how they are taxed.

Cross-border commuters, who typically live in France and work in Switzerland, are taxed in Switzerland. Switzerland is then required to pay a portion of the tax collected to France.

The deal is made up of two agreements, one signed in 1966 between France and Switzerland, and another signed in 1983 between France and the cantons of Bern, Solothurn, Basel-Stadt, Basel-Landschaft, Vaud, Valais, Neuchâtel and

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Date announced for start of higher Swiss VAT

December 16, 2022

On 25 September 2022, Swiss voters voted in favour of raising the rate of VAT to pay for state pensions. On 9 December 2022, the government announced the date the new higher rates will start.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.comFrom 1 January 2024, the standard rate of VAT will rise from 7.7% to 8.1% and the reduced rate will move from 2.5% to 2.6%.

The government said it wanted to implement the new rates at the beginning of a fiscal year to avoid the extra administrative burden for businesses that would be associated with changing the rate during the year.

In addition, the beginning of 2024 was chosen (instead of 2023) to give businesses enough time to update systems, in particular employers, who will need to implement the VAT changes and changes related to pensions.

The

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Sanctions reduced for overtaking in right lane in Switzerland

December 16, 2022

Passing in the right on multiple-lane roads is illegal in Switzerland and the penalties for those caught are severe. However, confusion abounds when it comes to the application of the rule. As more cases are challenged in court the definition of what is acceptable and the penalties evolve. This week, another case concluded setting a new legal precedent on the level of sanctions in some cases.

© Annanahabed | Dreamstime.comWhen the rule was first introduced there was little flexibility. Anyone driving in the right lane past a car in a lane to the left was breaking the law. This even included slowly overtaking on the right when traffic had been reduced to a crawl.

Soon after the rule was introduced many in government began discussing how the rule could be loosened to allow passing on

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Switzerland to restrict use of electric vehicles

December 16, 2022

Switzerland’s federal government plans to restrict the use of electric vehicles if there is a serious shortage of electricity, reported RTS.

Photo by Mike B on Pexels.comElectric vehicles consume substantial amounts of electricity. An average Swiss car travels 13,500 km per year. An average electric cars consumes nearly 200 Wh/km. This means a household with two electric cars could be consuming 5,400 kWh annually powering their vehicles, a substantial amount and more than the electrical consumption of a typical family home (kWh 4,500).

Based on this reality, the Swiss government said this week that if the nation is faced with a severe electricity shortage, electric car use would be restricted to essential journeys, for example regular shopping trips and driving to work.

Some are

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A meter reading could have a big impact on your electricity bill

December 16, 2022

Electricity prices are going up in Switzerland in 2023. For those expecting to consume less electricity in 2023 than in 2022, reading the meter at the end of 2022 could save you money.

© Thorsten Nilson | Dreamstime.comMost electricity bills are calculated by taking the difference between two meter readings and dividing total consumption by the number of days between readings to calculate average daily consumption. This average daily consumption figure is then applied to the relevant annual price to calculate a final bill.

If prices don’t change between meter readings or if your consumption is stable then the timing of meter readings will not have an impact on your bill. However, if prices are changing, as they are, and your consumption is variable, the timing of your meter reading

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Swiss cantons to get most of extra company tax money

December 9, 2022

On 12 January 2022, Switzerland’s Federal Council decided to implement the minimum tax rate for companies that was agreed by the OECD and G20 member states in 2021. The 15% minimum tax, which will be applied to large companies from 1 January 2024, will generate extra tax revenue. This week, after a degree of wrangling, the government agreed to split the extra tax collected 75%/25% in favour of the cantons.

© Ginasanders | Dreamstime.comThe new rate of 15% will be applied to all companies with turnover in excess of 750 million euros. The higher rate was not disputed. However, friction emerged over the split of the extra CHF 1 to 2.5 billion tax revenue the new rate would generate.

Some argued that more of the extra money should go to Bern given the increasing demands being placed on

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Bern against federal plan to subsidise health insurance 

December 5, 2022

A federal initiative aimed at subsidising health insurance premiums once they exceed 10% of disposable income met with resistance in Bern this week, reported RTS.
Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.comThe idea, which was put forward by the Socialist Party, would require the federal government to foot two thirds of the bill for the subsidy with cantons left to find the remaining third.
First the plan was rejected by the Federal Council on the grounds that some cantons might not commit to their end of the bargain. We could end up in a situation where the federal government has to cover 90% of the cost, which would pose a problem with rising premiums, it said. Other politicians complained that the idea was an affront to cantonal independence.
The Federal Council came

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No rise in Switzerland’s rent rate

December 3, 2022

Every three months the rate of interest used to set the rents in Switzerland is reviewed. If it goes down some renters have the right to request a decrease in rent. If it goes up landlords can push up rents. This time the rate remained at 1.25%, however it looks set to rise next year.
The interest rate used to set the reference rate is the average rate on Swiss mortgage loans outstanding at 30 September 2022. The average rate was 1.18%, up from 1.17% from the second quarter of 2022. The average actual rate is then rounded to the nearest quarter of a percent, taking the 1.18% to 1.25%, the same level set at the end of the second quarter.
The system of a rent reference interest rate was introduced in 2008. Since then it has fallen from 3.5% to 1.25%. Over this

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Bern against federal plan to subsidise health insurance 

December 3, 2022

A federal initiative aimed at subsidising health insurance premiums once they exceed 10% of disposable income met with resistance in Bern this week, reported RTS.

Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.comThe idea, which was put forward by the Socialist Party, would require the federal government to foot two thirds of the bill for the subsidy with cantons left to find the remaining third.

First the plan was rejected by the Federal Council on the grounds that some cantons might not commit to their end of the bargain. We could end up in a situation where the federal government has to cover 90% of the cost, which would pose a problem with rising premiums, it said. Other politicians complained that the idea was an affront to cantonal independence.

The Federal Council came up with a

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