Switzerland to tax VOC, sulphur emissions

Tax revenues to be returned to the public via national health insurance system

Two new ecotaxes are to be levied in Switzerland following an executive order made last week by the Swiss Federal Council. A tax on emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) will be charged from 1 January 1999, aimed at reducing photochemical smog. Under the national air pollution strategy, VOC emissions should be cut by 70,000 tonnes to meet the "minimum objective" of 145,000 tonnes per year. Nearly 40% of this will not be achieved without a tax, according to the government. The tax will begin at SFr1 (Ecu0.62) per kilogram in 1999, rising to SFr3/kg in 2003, at which point it should raise SFr210m, the government says. A separate tax on high-sulphur light heating oil will be charged from 1 July 1998, aimed at reducing the market share of heating oil with more than 0.1% sulphur. The projected revenue is around SFr20m per year. The revenue from both taxes is to be returned to the public via the national health insurance fund. The individual gain is forecast to be SFr15 per year in 1999, rising to SFr30 by 2003.

Follow Up:
Swiss Federal Council, tel: +41 31 322 2111.

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