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Freight tax battle to be taken further

The government is to appeal to Switzerland's highest court in a bid to be allowed to raise the tax on heavy goods vehicles, it announced on Wednesday.

The Federal Administrative Court earlier this month upheld a complaint by the Swiss Road Hauliers' Association against a ten per cent increase in the tax imposed in 2008, which took it to a maximum of SFr325 ($319) per year.

The court based its decision on the fact that by law the tax can only cover costs, and not generate a surplus.

But according to Transport Minister Moritz Leuenberger, unless the higher tariffs are introduced, the policy of shifting heavy freight from road to rail will be jeopardised. The Swiss constitution was amended 15 years ago after a popular vote to include this policy.

The road hauliers reacted to the government's decision to take the case to the Federal Court in Lausanne by describing it as "incomprehensible". It said the government was leaving them in the lurch at a time of economic crisis.

Until the Federal Court has reached a decision, the old rates will remain in force. The tax was cut for foreign trucks immediately after the Administrative Court ruling, and the same cut will now be applied to Swiss ones.

The levy is part of a bilateral transport agreement between Switzerland and the EU which came into force in 2002. and agencies


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