Crisis-hit truckers plead for tax breaks
The government is facing calls by truckers to grant tax breaks and ease red tape to boost the transport sector in times of economic downturn.
The Swiss Road Hauliers' Association wants cuts in a duty on heavy goods traffic, as well fewer bureaucratic hurdles and environmental restrictions, notably a tax on diesel.
Demand for international services caved in dramatically and competitors are offering services at cut-throat prices, according to the association.
Domestic orders decreased by up to 20 per cent at the beginning of the year and the number of jobless truckers soared 64 per cent in June, said President Adrian Amstutz.
"The transport sector has been hit hard by the crisis, many small and medium-sized enterprises have serious cash problems," Amstutz told a news conference in Bern on Wednesday.
He said more than 90 per cent of goods in Switzerland were transported by road, making the sector indispensable, notably for remote regions.
"We might not be too big to fail, but too important to fail," he added.
Over the past few months the government launched three economic stimulus packages and bailed out the bank UBS to soften the impact of the global economic slump.
However, the environmental organisation, Alpine Initiative, said rail freight traffic suffered more than the hauliers under the crisis.
The group accused the truckers of undermining the official transport policy which aims to put goods from road onto rail.
Urs Geiser, swissinfo.ch
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