SWITZERLAND - The lower chamber of the Swiss parliament has voted against allowing pensionskassen in financial trouble to suspend the 2.25% minimum guaranteed interest rate.

The vote spelled a victory for the Christian Democrats, the Social Democrats and the Greens. The vote was carried 76-74.

Last March the upper chamber decided by three votes to allow the suspension of the minimum 2.25% interest rate, but only for a maximum period of five years and as a last resort.

The decision, which would only have been allowed for pensionskassen in financial difficulties, raised contributions paid by employers.

During the debate in March, interior minister Pascal Couchepin said: “This law would allow pension funds to go back to a healthy state. It is good, it is necessary.”

The Einigungskonferenz, which adjudicates disputes between the two chambers, is now expected to be called in.

“If no solution is found, which would be no surprise, this would spell the breakdown of the measures of renovation,” stated the Swiss pension industry internet forum the Vorsorgeforum.