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New laws lead to higher pensions but keep women at work

A trip to the supermarket will be more expensive in 2001

(Keystone)

New federal laws coming into effect in 2001 will leave pensioners better off, but raise the retirement age for women by one year to 63. Consumers can expect to pay more health insurance, accommodation and certain goods and services.

The country's older generation has seen its pensions go up by 2.5 per cent from January to make up for inflation over the past two years. However, women now have to wait a year longer before they get a pension. The retirement age for men remains unchanged at 65.

Swiss residents will see their monthly bills swell in 2001: health insurance premiums have risen again, many tenants have higher rents and some postal services are more expensive.

At the same time, the price of coffee, a beer and cigarettes went up. But economists do not expect a major impact on inflation.

Consumers and cattle breeders have seen a ban on meat-based animal feed taking effect at the beginning of January. The measure, decided by the cabinet last month, is aimed at ridding the country of mad cow disease.

A new chapter has begun for Switzerland's viticulture. The government lifted import restrictions for white wine as of January. It is the latest step in a bid to gradually liberalise the agriculture market.

It is likely to put pressure particularly on wine producers with a small output, but experts hope it will lead to improved quality of Swiss wines.

Traffic on Swiss roads is likely to be affected by the presence of more lorries in the coming weeks and months. The authorities eased weight limits for trucks and introduced a special tax on heavy goods vehicles. This will ultimately lead to higher transport prices.

Investors are to benefit from a partial abolition of a tax on financial transactions at the stock exchange. The government has enforced the partial abolition of stamp duty, which will cause a loss in revenue of more than SFr200 million ($120 million).

Most taxpayers have to get used to a new taxing system in 2001. They will have to fill out their tax form every year, instead of every two years.

by Urs Geiser

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