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Public service, petrol as a milch cow and test tube babies

17.03.2016

Three very different proposals will also be put to the vote on 5 June.

There was rare unanimity in Parliament over the “pro public service” popular initiative launched by consumer magazines – the bill did not receive one single vote. The initiative calls for semi-public enterprises, such as the Swiss Post Office, Swisscom and the SBB, not to seek to achieve a profit, to refrain from cross-subsidisation in other administrative areas and not to pursue any fiscal interests. The salaries paid by these companies should also not exceed those of the federal administration. The initiative requires a “decent service at reasonable prices” instead of “overpriced tickets”, “maximum fares” and “profits running into billions”. Opponents warn that the popular initiative could lead to a weakening of public services and tax increases.

The “milch cow initiative” does not concern agriculture but instead transport. Car importers and road associations, which are behind the initiative “for a fair transport policy”, believe they are the milch cows of the nation. This is because only half of all revenue from petroleum tax goes towards road transport. The other half goes into the general federal coffers. The authors of the initiative are calling for all of the tax revenue to be ring-fenced for road transport. A funding shortfall is looming here, they say. Nobody in Parliament is supporting the popular initiative, apart from the SVP and some FDP MPs. The introduction of complete ring-fencing would jeopardise other federal undertakings. Opponents also warn of tax deficits of CHF 1.5 billion.

The revised Reproductive Medicine Act concerns ethically complex issues. The constitutional amendment was approved by the Swiss people in 2015, making previously prohibited pre-implantation diagnostics possible. However, a broad-based committee made up of figures from various parties from left to right has called a referendum against the implementing law. This concerns the conditions under which genetic screening can be undertaken with artificial insemination. There are also fears over selection by eliminating embryos with trisomy 21, for example, before implantation into the womb.

(JM)

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