posted at 02:50
Author Name: Nina Larson
Swiss vote on capping immigration to save environment
Last February, the approval of an initiative demanding quotas for immigration from the European Union caught many off guard and threw non-member Switzerland's relations with the bloc into turmoil. Foreign nationals already make up nearly a quarter of Switzerland's eight million inhabitants, official statistics show. According to Ecopop, immigration is adding 1.1-1.4 percent annually to the Swiss population, putting the country on track to house up to 12 million people by 2050. Christian Luescher, a parliamentarian for the Liberal Party and co-chair of the committee opposing Ecopop, described the initiative as "Absolutely absurd". Polls hint voters are also likely to reject a bid to scrap special tax breaks for rich foreigners living but not working in Switzerland, who today can choose to be levied on their spending rather than income. Switzerland counts 5,729 millionaires and billionaires with foreign passports, who together pay around one billion Swiss francs in taxes annually. The third issue on the table is a call to force Switzerland's central bank to increase its gold reserves and it also appears destined to fail, according to polls. The initiative would oblige the Swiss National Bank to boost its gold reserves to at least 20 percent of its holdings, nearly three times more than today's level of seven percent.

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