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Migrant influx Beefing up border guards with army staff

Finance Minister Maurer hopes to win support for his idea to boost the border guard unit

(Keystone)

Switzerland’s border guards could soon benefit from the support from army personnel to prevent an influx of illegal immigrants.

Finance Minister Ueli Maurer, whose portfolio includes the border guards, said he would ask the cabinet to dispatch about 50 professional military staff to support regular border guards next year.

He said the staff should be trained in policing duties but he rules out “patrols with machine guns along the border”.

The former defence minister said neighbouring Germany and France also planned to beef up their border security.

Maurer told journalists on Thursday he was confident that the seven-member cabinet as well as parliament would approve his request.

However, the cabinet last April decided that the army would only be called upon to help the civilian authorities in emergency situations, notably the arrival of thousands of asylum seekers within a short space of time.

Over the past few years, members of his rightwing Swiss People’s Party have regularly called for tighter controls, notably by deploying troops or by building fences at critical spots on the southern border to Italy.

In the first seven months of 2016, Switzerland turned back more than 8,000 migrants entering Switzerland from the its southern border.

IT project

Speaking at an annual year-end media event, Maurer also said the planned acquisition of an IT system for the Federal Tax Administration was likely to cost more than the CHF85 million ($82.6 million) earmarked in the budget.

He said about CHF30 million might be needed to have a new IT system in place.

A previous project was abandoned shortly before completion in 2012 amid a major scandal and costs of up CHF116 million.

swissinfo.ch with agencies/ug


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