Swiss Lawmakers Eye SNB Money for Coronavirus Debts, Pensions

(Bloomberg) -- Lawmakers in Bern want to use the money the Swiss National Bank earns with its negative interest rates to finance the state pension fund.

The lower house of Switzerland’s parliament on Wednesday voted 108 to 79 in favor of the measure, which will be debated by the upper house in coming months.

Negative rates have been in force in Switzerland since 2015 as the central bank seeks to control the value of the franc. While the sub-zero interest rates help exporters, they crimp returns for asset managers, including pension funds. The SNB earned roughly 2 billion francs ($2.1 billion) with negative rates last year. That figure is likely to be lower for 2020, because the basis for calculation got revised.

Lower house lawmakers on Wednesday also decided to mandate that the annual payout the SNB makes to the federal government be used to pay down debts incurred during the coronavirus outbreak, according to state broadcaster SRF. That measure now also goes to the upper house of parliament.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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