Finance minister eyes central bank surplus to reduce expected debts

Maurer (left) has publicly voiced concern over the costs caused the economic lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Keystone/Peter Klaunzer

Swiss Finance Minister Ueli Maurer wants the country’s central bank to contribute to the reduction of the debt caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

This content was published on April 29, 2020 - 12:22

“I suggest the Swiss National Bank spends the money from an annual surplus to reduce coronavirus-related debts,” he told the Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaper on Wednesday.

The central bank made a surplus of CHF48.9 billion ($50.2 billion) last year. Under a deal with the finance ministry, the bank paid CHF4 billion to the national government and the 26 cantons.

New debt is likely to increase in the current year to between CHF30 billion and CHF50 billion, Maurer said recently.

He added that it won’t be possible to reduce debts quickly without implementing drastic spending cuts over the next few years, despite a debt reduction mechanism, known as debt brake.

Maurer said the sale of mobile phone licences could also generate a few a hundred million francs in revenue.

The Swiss government has revised its economic forecast because of the coronavirus pandemic. Predictions have recently been revised sharply downwards and the government expects the worst recession in 45 years.

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