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Swiss budget agreed with humanitarian spending cut

Switzerland’s parliament has finalised the 2024 budget after agreeing to a CHF10 million cut on humanitarian funding.

On Thursday, the House of Representatives and the Senate chambers cleared up the last budget disagreements. The last sticking point was whether to retain or cut Swiss funding for the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).

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The House of Representatives wanted to cut CHF20 million of UNRWA funding, but accepted a Senate compromise to reduce the general budget for humanitarian projects by CHF10 million without specifying where the money should be saved. The Federal Council is free to choose. However, the conditions for granting funds have been clarified.

Contributions to humanitarian aid in the Middle East will be paid in instalments with the foreign policy committees being consulted before payment. The funds must benefit exclusively the civilian population.

Another point of divergence concerned regional policy. The Senate wanted to maintain the contribution of CHF25 million to the Regional Development Fund, but the House of Representatives had called for the funding to be cut. Ultimately, a compromise solution was adopted with a cut of CHF12.5 million. This option had already been proposed by the Senate.

The two parliamentary chambers agreed to compensate for excess spending by a cut in the Rail Infrastructure Fund. Following the adaptations made, the Council of States gave the green light to an amount of CHF38 million.

Army spending included in the 2025-2027 financial plan also divided the chambers. The Senate wanted spending to grow faster than the Federal Council and to reach 1% of GDP in 2030 and not 2035, in agreement with a motion approved by Parliament. The House of Representatives was opposed to this and won the argument.

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