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Captains of industry call for sweeping tax cuts

The main players within the Swiss economy have put forward a new long-term tax concept that calls for fewer taxes to make Switzerland more competitive. It was presented by the Trade and Industry Association president, Andres Leuenberger (pictured).

The main players within the Swiss economy have put forward a new long-term tax concept that calls for fewer taxes to make Switzerland more competitive. Business leaders are calling for tax cuts of up to SFr6 billion over the next few years.

It was presented Thursday in Berne at a news conference organised by the Swiss Trade and Industry Association (Vorort), the Swiss Bankers Association and the Swiss Trades and Crafts Union.

"What we need is a complete strategic reorientation of our fiscal system. The main issue is how Switzerland can optimise the system to ensure the country's long-term growth and prosperity," said Andres Leuenberger, the president of Vorort (pictured).

He said the fiscal burden on Switzerland had increased significantly in the 1990s and now stood at 35.1 per cent of GDP, a level close to the average among members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

"For a small country open to the world such as ours, this development is quite alarming," he said. "In other countries, even left-wing governments have come to realise that tax reductions are a signal for long-term growth," he added.

The concept calls for a general reduction of direct federal taxes both for companies and individuals, as well as the abolition of stamp duty on financial transactions and the double tax imposition of company profits.

"If we want to strengthen Switzerland's economic attraction, we have to reduce the State's part in gross domestic product," Leuenberger said.

He said the Swiss government's recent suggestion to reduce taxes by between SFr1 billion and SFr1.2 billion between now and 2003 was a step in the right direction.

"But our horizon stretches further. The total sum of our plan amounts to a tax reduction of between SFr4 billion and SFr6 billion from now to the year 2006," he added.

By Robert Brookes

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