Life is more and more expensive all over the world and Switzerland is not spared, even if it gets off lightly. Invited on Sunday at 7:30 p.m., Price Supervisor Stefan Meierhans deplores a lack of political will to fight against certain avoidable phenomena.
Inflation, mainly driven by fuel prices, fell slightly in October, to stand at +3% over one year. The consumer price index (CPI) meanwhile remained stable (+4.6% compared to December 2020, the reference period) in October compared to September, as “opposing trends” offset each other. , according to the Federal Statistical Office.
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The general price increase is mainly due to energy costs. The price of gas is up by 67.9% over one year, heating oil by 57% and gasoline by 12.3%. Food, which weighs very directly on household budgets, is up 4.2%.
Added to this is the announced increase in health premiums for 2023, by 6.6% on average with large disparities depending on the region.
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Responsible for monitoring prices for the Confederation, Stefan Meierhans confirms having received more than 1,800 arrests since January. “People are a little afraid of next year, of what will happen to them with energy and sickness funds. That’s what I feel the most,” he explains on Sunday in the 7:30 p.m. .
The mission of “Monsieur Prix” is to fight against unjustified price increases, in particular by observing the margins taken from the products. Stefan Meierhans has been monitoring the prices of energy, transport, health and even telecommunications for 14 years.
“We are coming out of a global pandemic, there is a war in Europe, so obviously that has an effect on costs. But there are still some areas where we can ask ourselves questions, for example in fossil fuels and food”, explains the federal supervisor.
“Some investigations are underway, we will check what is justified and what is not,” he announces. In particular, he mentions a survey focused on margins in the organic sector, which is due out at the end of the year. “We are in constant discussion with the retailers,” he underlines. “There are a lot of people who are really in distress, and I think they also have some responsibility for our society.”
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Resistance and lobbying
Stefan Meierhans also deplores some “problems of transparency with some companies” in the field of gasoline. “We will try to work around the problem, but it’s a shame.”
Specifically concerning health premiums, if he claims some success, the Saint-Gallois recalls that it is necessary to provide a political response. “For example, on the price of generic drugs in Switzerland, we could save around 400 million per year,” he says. However, he denounces very strong resistance from the pharmaceutical industry, in particular through lobbying at the National Council.
Finally, he believes that it is necessary to target the aid granted to households “by focusing on those who are most affected”. “It will be a discussion during the winter session and Parliament will have the last word”, particularly in terms of subsidies.
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“Mr. Price” recalls, however, that inflation is general in Europe or the United States. “Other countries have inflation around 10%, we are at 3%. I don’t want to minimize this problem, but compared to the others, we are still lucky and we have to make sure it stays that way. !”
Interview by Jennifer Covo
Web text: Pierrik Jordan