Price watchdog demands politicians lower tariffs

Swiss price watchdog Stefan Meierhans wants politicians to promote competition Keystone

Simpler customs procedures, lower tariffs, more transparent prices: for the Swiss price watchdog, politicians’ duty this year is to cushion the negative effects of the strong franc, saying competitive prices are vital for businesses as well as consumers. 

This content was published on February 26, 2015 - 14:32 and agencies

“This year will be marked by the abandoning of the minimum exchange rate [of CHF1.20 per euro] and the elections [on October 18],” said Stefan Meierhans at the price monitoring post’s annual media conference in Bern on Thursday. 

Six weeks after the Swiss National Bank scrapped the franc-euro cap, Meierhans said it was particularly important in the current situation to address the problems of “high price island” Switzerland. Competition must be encouraged and promoted, he said. 

“More competition creates lower prices,” he said, adding that the cartel law, which hit the rocks in parliament last year, needed further revision. 

A priority for Meierhans is the “consistent regulation of monopolies and powerful companies”, citing as an example the “anti-competitive tariffs” with which airport operators finance their operational and infrastructure costs and which are then passed on to passengers. 

Consumer benefits 

However, it is not just consumers but also Switzerland as a centre of industry that suffers from taxes and duties, according to the price watchdog. 

For that reason Meierhans said he expected “utmost restraint” from the authorities regarding pricing and trade barriers. 

This is the only way, he said, of preventing companies from relocating their production abroad. What’s more, efforts to complicate cross-border trade are counterproductive for the export economy. 

Looking at the situation from the other side, Meierhans said he expected importers and businesses to pass on exchange rate benefits to consumers immediately, if they have not already done so.

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