Public spending cuts on the horizon in Switzerland, says Finance Committee
The Finance Committee of the Swiss National Council has warned that the days of high government spending are over. The departing Finance Minister Ueli Maurer said that the spending plans currently proposed by parliament cannot be financed and that people in Switzerland will “have to tighten their belts” in the coming years.
Switzerland faces a budget deficit in 2024
The President of the Finance Committee, Roland Fischer, told SRF that "the current financial plans for 2024 to 2026 are in the deep red." As Switzerland, and the rest of the world, faces a slowing global economy, rising prices, a loss of purchasing power, and supply shocks, “austerity programmes must be discussed,” if current budget plans remain as they are.
Outgoing Finance Minister Ueli Maurer has already warned of a “gloomy” outlook for the Swiss economy. "We're going to have to tighten our belts here and there," he noted, advising that parliament should think more carefully about what it plans to spend money on.
Despite calls for austerity, Swiss parliament spends large
SRF noted that the Swiss government has already committed itself to significant spending over the next decade. Most recently, the National Council has approved an extra 2 billion francs for the Swiss Army and over 3 billion francs on both climate protection and deductions for Swiss health insurance, to be spent over the next decade.
The Federal Council told the national broadcaster that if all policies are enacted, Switzerland will face a budget deficit in the billions by 2024. In 2026, authorities said that the federal deficit alone will amount to over 7 billion francs a year, making austerity measures inevitable.
Swiss Finance Minister predicts spending cuts
Maurer already said in the summer that several large spending pledges will have to be postponed or even cut completely. He predicted that education, foreign aid, agricultural subsidies and the military were the sectors most likely to be affected by budget cuts. "It's probably best to save a little everywhere - cross-sectional cuts across all areas of spending, that will be necessary in the next few years” he concluded.
Now, to make sure parliament doesn’t continue to pass major spending packages, the Finance Committee has demanded it be allowed to “intervene before Parliament decides to spend money that is not available.” The proposal has been submitted to the Council of States for approval.