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Lawmakers approve enabling legislation for gold sale

(AP) -- Swiss lawmakers Tuesday approved legislation that will enable the country's central bank to begin sales of 1,300 tons of surplus gold reserves from next spring.

This content was published on October 5, 1999 - 15:12

(AP) -- Swiss lawmakers Tuesday approved legislation that will enable the country's central bank to begin sales of 1,300 tons of surplus gold reserves from next spring.

The 151-0 vote by parliament's lower house clears the way for the upper house to take up the non-controversial bill in December.

It will then go to the cabinet for enactment around April.

The government plans to use 1,300 tons of gold -- half of the Swiss National Bank's 2,600 tons of reserves -- to underpin the Swiss franc, and has designated the other half as surplus.

"It is in our interest that the gold sales begin as fast as possible," Finance Minister Kaspar Villiger told lawmakers.

Last month's announcement by 15 central banks, including that of Switzerland, that they would limit their combined sales of bullion to 400 tons per year for a total of five years, allows Switzerland to go ahead with its plan, Villiger said.

"From Switzerland's point of view, the pact is exceedingly advantageous," he added, noting the rally in the gold price that followed the announcement.

Villiger repeated Switzerland's long-standing pledge that the gold will be sold in careful doses over a period of years.

In a referendum last April, Swiss voters approved a new-look constitution which ended the traditional requirement for the Swiss franc to be backed by gold.

Britain and the International Monetary Fund also have moved to sell off part of their gold reserves.

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