Government refuses fuel tax reductions

The Swiss government will offer no fuel tax breaks despite rising petrol costs. Keystone

The Swiss government has turned down demands to lower fuel taxes, as protests by truckers and motorists continue to spread across Europe. The cabinet said the recent price hikes did not have a negative impact on the Swiss economy.

This content was published on September 13, 2000 minutes

The government spokesman, Achille Casanova, said on Wednesday that there was no threat to petrol supplies in the country, or a risk of shortages in the near future.

He acknowledged that the price increase for fuel would affect consumers. But he pointed out that petrol and heating oil in Switzerland were still among the cheapest in Europe.

Petrol and diesel prices have gone up by nearly 20 per cent in Switzerland over the past year. The price for heating oil even soared by more than 100 per cent in the same period.

However, the Road Haulage Association expressed disappointment with the government decision. Its spokesman, Beat Keiser, said the high diesel prices were making it very difficult for many Swiss transport companies to compete with truckers in other countries.

Keiser said the Road Haulage Association was not preparing any blockades to press its demand for the 59 per cent levy on fuel to be cut by half. But he suggested the mood was tense among truckers.

"We cannot rule out wildcat actions by disgruntled truckers", Kaiser told swissinfo.

He said the haulage companies would be forced to increase transport fees if the government was sticking to its position. "In the end consumers will have to pay for it," Keiser said.

The finance minister, Kaspar Villiger, is due to meet representatives of the main road transport association in the next few days.

swissinfo with agencies

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