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Because of the corona virus: Dozens of Swiss companies apply for state aid

The cantons count many requests for short-time work. Unions also ask for help from the Swiss National Bank.

The corona virus keeps the global economy in suspense. Because investors are fleeing the Swiss franc as a safe haven, the value of the Swiss currency has increased in recent days. Therefore, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) may have intervened on the foreign exchange market, as the AWP reports. Yesterday the euro-franc exchange rate was 1.07. Daniel Lampart, chief economist at the Swiss Trade Union Confederation (SGB), believes that the SNB needs intervention: “We demand that it actively fights against the appreciation of the Swiss franc and must ensure that it devalues.”

The unions want to bring this up at a round table that Minister of Economics Guy Parmelin (SVP) had announced in the “Sunday newspaper”. This top meeting with the federal government is needed, Lampart now tells CH Media. It is important that cantons now approve applications for short-time work by companies without red tape. Companies have recently been able to submit corresponding requests to the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco). “This must also apply to the service sector,” says Lampart. So far, short-time work has mainly been used in industry. Another problem is that many companies no longer have access to primary products and raw materials. “The federal government and associations should help in the event of bottlenecks in this area to find alternative sources of supply.” Lampart criticizes the federal government’s information policy. The information flow is “sufficient”, but: “It should improve in the next few days.”

Black prospects for the global economy

SVP National Councilor Alfred Heer has little left for round tables and an economic stimulus program. “Hyperactivism is out of place,” he says. His IT company was also affected and could no longer deliver a PC. «It’s just that and cannot be changed in the short term. For the companies affected by the corona virus, we already have the necessary resources, such as short-time work, which are effective in this case, »says Heer. “One should now concentrate on coping with health.”

A survey shows that applications have already been submitted in several cantons. In the canton of Lucerne, where tourism plays an important role, there are already 18 applications. 4 applications were also submitted in the Canton of Bern, where the Bernese Oberland tourist region senses the absence of Chinese guests. In Valais there are even 8th requests were made in Zurich (5), Basel-Stadt (2), St.Gallen (4). According to the authorities, these are often precautionary applications. The Seco only sees whether the companies will actually introduce short-time work in later working time statistics.

The authorities assume that the number of applications will increase depending on the development of the epidemic. “Numerous companies” are currently inquiring about the criteria for virus-related short-time work, say the Canton of Basel-Stadt. These come primarily from the catering, hotel and other service sectors. In Valais, for example, there are also companies from the watch industry and bus companies. In order to introduce short-time work, companies must be able to prove a connection between absence from work and the corona virus. According to the Seco, the loss of work could be due either to official measures (such as sealing off cities) or to economic reasons (such as a drop in demand due to fear of infection).

Meanwhile, economists are lowering their growth forecasts for the global economy. The OECD raised the alarm yesterday. The industrialized countries organization warned of the greatest economic risk since the financial crisis and lowered its forecast for 2020 from 2.9 to 2.4 percent. A “long-lasting and intense outbreak” of the virus could even reduce the prognosis to 1.5 percent, writes the OECD and does not rule out a recession.

The OECD therefore calls on governments to act “quickly and vigorously” and, among other things, calls for a supportive monetary and financial policy. Italy and Japan are now planning billions of aid packages. In the country of origin China, numerous measures have already been initiated to increase liquidity in the market in the short term. Germany, France and the UK are currently discussing stimulus programs.

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