Swiss minister sees 125-130 bln Sfr debt at year's end-FuW

ZURICH, July 22 (Reuters) – Swiss Finance Minister Ueli Maurer expects state debt to climb to 125-130 billion Swiss francs ($134.1-139.5 billion) by year’s end as the government borrows an extra 25-30 billion francs to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic’s impact, he told a newspaper.

Debt could increase slightly over the next two to three years as well depending on events, he told Finanz und Wirtschaft, adding the country’s “debt brake” that limits deficits would provide a certain amount of stability.

Companies hit by the COVID-19 pandemic had borrowed 15.8 billion Swiss francs in state-backed loans so far, less than originally expected, and the government had overestimated the amount of short-time work employers would use to cushion the blow of decreasing demand, he said in an interview.

But he also declined to say the situation would be better than first assumed.

“If you look at how the global economy in developing — especially in the United States but also in other countries, with the exception of China — it is highly uncertain how long the crisis could last. Added to this is the EU’s debt, which is more likely to increase,” he said.

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