Swiss finance minister sees pandemic-linked spending of 35 bln Swiss francs – Reuters

ZURICH, Jan 10 (Reuters) – The money Switzerland is spending to cushion the blow of the coronavirus pandemic could reach around 35 billion Swiss francs ($37.75 billion) this year since the start of the pandemic, Finance Minister Ueli Maurer said on Monday.

“We have another roughly 3 or 4 billion (francs) in the budget for this year to spend depending on how the situation develops, so we will be at around 35 billion,” Maurer told Swiss broadcaster SRF.

Switzerland has been funnelling billions of francs into wage replacement schemes and emergency loans for companies hit hard by the crisis. It ran a record 15.8 billion franc deficit in 2020 and in October cut its projection for the 2021 federal deficit to 14.8 billion Swiss francs from the 17.4 billion francs it had expected in June.

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It expects a small surplus in 2022.

The government in June put forward two proposals to pay back the debt it took on to finance pandemic economic relief, neither of which would require tax hikes or an austerity programme.

($1 = 0.9272 Swiss francs)

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Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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