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Government measure to raise contributions of self-employed rejected

Parliament refused to increase the mandatory contributions of the self-employed Keystone Archive

The Swiss parliament has rejected a government proposal to increase the mandatory contributions of the self-employed to the state pension scheme. The government wanted to bring the contributions up to 8.1 per cent of income, against the current rate of 7.8 per cent.

The measure was rejected by only four votes on the first day of a three-day special session of parlimanent, called to discuss possible changes to the old age pension scheme.

The government said the change would have generated SFr63 million in public revenue. But representatives of the self-employed rejected the government’s argument that the current rate was an unjustified privilege.

Members of parliament, speaking on behalf of the self-employed, argued that they did not receive the same level of family and unemployment benefits.

Parliament also rejected by 47 votes a proposal by a minority of left-wing politicians who wanted to bring mandatory contributions for the self-employed to 8.4 per cent, the rate currently applied to employees.

The votes came amid discussions on ways of guaranteeing the financing of the old age pension scheme, and ways of allowing people to take early retirement.

Shortly after the start of the debate, parliamentarians overwhelmingly rejected a proposal brought by the centre-right Radical Party and righ-twing People’s Party to halt the discussions.

The main political parties differ widely over how to ensure the financing of the old age pension scheme.

The government wants to increase Value Added Tax and eventually raise the retirement age for women to 65.

Switzerland’s much-vaunted social security system was introduced in 1948, and the state pension scheme is mainly funded by mandatory contributions from the salaries of the working population, as well as employers, government subsidies and taxes.

Because of Switzerland’s ageing population, the number of Swiss pensioners is growing disproportionately compared to the working population, as in most other Western countries.

The statutory retirement age for men in Switzerland is currently 65, while women get their pension at 63.

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