Survey shows drop in support for banking secrecy

When it comes to money matters, some people are still in the dark... Keystone Archive

Public support for banking secrecy has dropped six percentage points since last year, according to a survey published on Monday.

This content was published on September 27, 2004 - 17:26

The study also showed that a majority of Swiss don’t know the size of the national debt – but still have clear ideas about how to reduce it.

The survey by the Swiss finance ministry found that 51 per cent of those questioned favoured maintaining banking secrecy in its present form, compared with 57 per cent a year ago.

“The last four years have seen a clear polarisation of opinions,” said a spokesman for the ministry.

Almost a third of the 1,516 people interviewed said they would like to see banking secrecy lifted in cases of tax evasion, as well as for fraud (compared with 30 per cent in 2003 and 25 per cent in 2001).

Fifteen per cent favoured the scrapping of banking secrecy – up from 11 per cent last year.

Black hole?

The survey found that only 35 per cent of those questioned had an accurate idea of the size of the national debt – currently SFr124 billion ($98.5 billion).

Fourteen per cent thought the actual figure was half that size, while 37 per cent thought it was up to twice as much.

Meanwhile 48 per cent (the same as last year) expressed the view that public services should be cut if necessary to help reduce debt levels.

Higher taxes were the preferred option for 31 per cent, while just 13 per cent favoured new forms of taxation.

Around a third believed the overall tax burden in Switzerland was higher than in European Union countries, while a quarter of those questioned said it was as high.

Just 32 per cent divined the truth – that Swiss tax levels are actually lower.

Public ignorance was most evident with regard to the Swiss-EU agreement on taxation of interest.

Only eight per cent understood the basis of the agreement, while 24 per cent knew that it only affected EU nationals.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The finance ministry commissioned the survey of more than 1,500 Swiss aged 15 to 74.
The margin of error is estimated at plus/minus 2.4%.
The survey has been carried out regularly since 1997.

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In brief

A survey by the Swiss finance ministry shows that just 51% of the population support banking secrecy rules in their current form.

15% favour ending the system completely, while 32 per cent would like it lifted in cases of tax evasion.

Just over a third knew the size of the national debt, while most others overestimated it.

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