Minister calls for extra funds for Swiss unemployment system

Parmelin says the government will try to prevent a second lockdown at all costs. Keystone/Alessandro Della Valle

Economics Minister Guy Parmelin says it is crucial to end the lockdown and prevent a collapse of the unemployment scheme to ensure Switzerland’s economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis.

This content was published on May 17, 2020 - 12:03

Parmelin said the government would decide on an injection of additional funds into the state unemployment scheme at one of its next meetings.

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Failure to do so would lead to lower purchasing power, he warned.

Unemployment is currently at 3.3% in Switzerland and it is expected to rise to 4.1% according to the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs.

About 30% of the workforce have applied for short-time work compensation following a partial shutdown of business activities. 

Infrastructure projects

Parmelin also called for publicly financed infrastructure projects to be speeded up and stressed the importance of free trade agreements with other countries to give the Swiss industry access to international markets.

“This is key in when multilateral organisations are blocked and the United States resort to a go-it alone policy,” he told the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper.

Parmelin dismissed calls notably from the political left for a stimulus package but came out in favour of scrapping industrial tariffs to promote consumption and lower prices, notably for export-oriented businesses.

“But let’s be honest: The size of the economic crisis depends on the international developments,” he said.

Parliament approved a relief package worth more than CHF57 billion ($58.6 billion) for the Swiss economy earlier this month to cushion the shock of the lockdown imposed in March.

Parmelin reiterated the importance of coordinated international efforts in times of crisis and came out against a proposal by the right-wing People’s Party to end an accord with the European Union on the free movement of labour.

“The government, including myself, are against the initiative because it would undermine our economy,” he said.

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