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Agricultural tax privileges


Cabinet minister admits ‘political mistake’ but stands by choice


Swiss defence minister Guy Parmelin has said he made a “political mistake” over a potential conflict of interests in tax privileges for farmers, days after denying he had done anything wrong.

On Friday, a Swiss newspaper revealed that Parmelin had argued in favour of fiscal benefits for farmers who sell plots of land, even though his own family could benefit from a potential change in the law.

The defence minister, from the conservative right Swiss People's Party, did not exclude himself from cabinet discussions on the issue, and the bill allowing for a legal amendment was passed by one chamber of parliament last month.

Answering questions from a parliamentary control committee on Monday, former-farmer Parmelin stood by his belief that he had taken a legally sound decision not to abstain from discussions.

After his election to the government last December, Parmelin sold a plot of wine-growing land near Lake Geneva to his brother, but under certain circumstances he could still see retrospective financial benefits. On Monday, he also claimed there were no plans to sell the agricultural land in question anyway.

Parmelin admitted that with hindsight his choice had been a “political mistake”.

The committee will decide on Tuesday whether any further action needs to be taken. It will take a particularly close look at cabinet rules on abstention, and whether clarifications need to be made.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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