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Impact Investing

IPE special report May 2018

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Swiss to vote on pension reform in September

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By a very narrow margin the Swiss parliament voted “yes” to the pension reform package ‘Altersvorsorge 2020’ (AV2020).

The law was passed by the lower chamber, the Nationalrat, in the final vote today. There were 100 votes in favour, 93 against, and one abstention.

At the same time the upper chamber, the Ständerat, also accepted the law with votes of 27 in favour to 18 against.

Yesterday in a preliminary vote 101 MPs voted in favour of the changes, meaning the necessary majority was only just reached. In the final vote, just a simple majority was needed.

Next, Switzerland’s population will decide on the reform package in a binding referendum on 24 September.

A public vote is necessary because part of the reform requires an amendment to the country’s constitution. Through an increase in VAT, every person retiring from the day the reform comes into effect is to be granted a CHF70 (€57) top-up payment to compensate for cuts under the new pension framework.

The Green party, GLP, changed its mind at the last minute to accept the reform package in parliament.

They remained critical of the top-up payment to first pillar pensions, but said it should be up to the people to decide this question.

In a vote on a similar general pension top-up in autumn last year, the people had rejected the left-wing initiative “AHVplus”.

However, on 24 September Swiss people will not only be able to vote for or against the increase in VAT for pension payments, but also on the whole package.

This means the reform package as a whole could still be toppled as unions, employer representatives, and parties have already started to campaign ahead of the referendum.

Major points of the reform – apart from the top-up – are a lower conversion rate for second pillar Pensionskassen, and an increase to the retirement age for women. 

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