Most Swiss citizens have expressed their desire to reduce fuel taxes in the country, similar to what happened in European neighboring countries to face the rise in energy prices since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
A recent opinion poll showed that 64% of the Swiss want to reduce duties and taxes on gasoline and other fuels, according to the German-language “20Minute” platform.
This came after a liter of gasoline cost more than two francs in many places, and prices are likely to rise another 5 to 10 cents in the next few weeks if the war continues.
High energy prices in Switzerland
A working group led by Economy Minister Guy Parmlin is currently examining rising energy prices, and is looking for solutions to bring to the National Assembly soon.
Swiss People’s Party MP Christian Emark was not surprised by the poll result, saying: “Anyone who drives a car a day pays hundreds of francs a month, which is too much.”
In early March, Mark criticized high gasoline prices, stressing that the economy is also under threat.
“The construction industry is suffering greatly from high fuel prices,” Emark said. If this continues, jobs will soon be lost.
For his part, the MP for the Swiss People’s Party, Frans Grotter, stressed that the federal government does not necessarily have to reduce or abolish fuel taxes.
Instead, VAT must be calculated differently. Currently, VAT is charged on the entire price, including taxes and fees.
Grotter wants to change that: VAT should be charged only on the product, ie gasoline, and not on different taxes.
His proposal was approved by the National Assembly, and the price of gasoline would then fall by about 7 cents per liter.
As a result, the federal government will lose about CHF300 million in tax revenue. However, this is not a real loss, because due to the high price of gasoline the state taxes much more than if the price of gasoline remained at around 1.8 francs a liter.
Fuel tax cut is out of the question
The head of the Liberal Greens, Jörg Grossen, sees things differently. He stressed that reducing fuel taxes was out of the question for him.
Noting that gasoline prices have fallen in the past 10-12 years, he said, “Now they are rising again, so there is no need for tax breaks for drivers at the moment.”
Plus, today’s cars are becoming more efficient: “You can drive further for the same price,” Grossen says.
If fuel prices are to rise sharply for several years, targeted subsidies for those affected can be discussed.
Alternatives to lowering fuel taxes
Francesca Resser of the Green Party takes a similar view; She explained that, unlike some neighboring countries, Switzerland does not suffer from energy poverty.
“In this country, people can cover their energy costs,” Reeser said.
Additionally, there are good alternatives to save money in the short term, such as driving more slowly on the highway, or switching to public transportation.
“In the medium term, we have to move away from fossil fuels anyway,” she added.
Therefore, a tax cut is not the answer. If fuel prices remain high, low-income families can also receive targeted subsidies.
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