Finance ministry shelves plans for tax benefits
The finance minister, Kaspar Villiger, wants to delay planned tax breaks for families and property owners and to limit proposed reductions in stamp duty.
Villiger said the delays were necessary to balance the federal budget over the next years. He warned that the deficit could reach SFr1 billion ($560 million) by 2004, if parliament approves the extra spending.
In 1994, the federal government chalked up a record budget deficit of SFr7 billion. As a result, voters in 1998 approved a plan to balance the budget by 2001.
Villiger's warning came during Tuesday's debate in the House of Representatives on next year's federal budget.
The House amended the government's proposal, which foresees a deficit of SFr58 million francs. Parliamentarians voted to include an additional SFr100 million for science and research, improvements on the motorway system as well as humanitarian aid.
This year's federal account is forecast to result in a slight surplus. However, the national debt now stands at around SFr100 billion.
The Senate debates the federal budget next week.
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