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Swiss party alliance blocks easing of gold sales for charity

A rare alliance of Left and Right in the Swiss parliament on Friday blocked moves to ease Swiss gold sales to fund a proposed humanitarian fund. But the Swiss National Bank said that it still planned to go ahead with the gold sales.

This content was published on June 18, 1999 - 13:30

A rare alliance of Left and Right in the Swiss parliament on Friday blocked moves to ease Swiss gold sales to fund a proposed humanitarian fund. But the Swiss National Bank said that it still planned to go ahead with the gold sales.

The debate focussed on the SNB's plan to sell 1,300 tonnes of excess gold reserves once specific legislation authorising such sales was in place.

Some of the proceeds from those sales would go to the proposed Solidarity Foundation to aid victims of poverty, human rights abuses and catastrophes.

The foundation was set up in connection with the Nazi gold scandal, which saw the United States, and particularly the U.S-based World Jewish Congress, put pressure on Swiss banks – including the national bank – to reveal their business dealings with Nazi Germany.

The leftist Social Democrat Party and the right-wing Swiss People’s Party blocked the government-backed proposal to pass the new legislation to allow the gold sales by the SNB.

The Social Democrats objected to the proposed amendments because they would also have authorised the SNB to make fighting inflation its primary goal of monetary policy.

Party officials said such a policy was unacceptable and reflected outdated monetarist policies.

However, Social Democrat officials said that, once the inflation amendment was dropped, the party would vote in favour of the proposals, .

The Swiss People’s Party, however, voted against the amendments because it wants to put all the proceeds of gold sales into Switzerland’s state pension fund.

The SNB said that, despite the latest vote by the lower house of parliament, gold sales would likely go ahead, although not before early 2000.

The bank said that the current constitution simply made it more difficult – but did not ban – the transfer of excess gold reserves to third parties.


Reuters news agency contributed to this report.

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