ZURICH, March 6 Switzerland's upper house on
Thursday rejected a popular initiative that would prohibit the
Swiss National Bank from selling any of its gold reserves,
saying the proposal could hamper the central bank's ability to
fulfil its mandate.
The "Save our Swiss gold" proposal was brought forward by
the right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP), which wants to ban
the central bank from offloading its reserves and oblige it to
hold at least 20 percent of its assets in gold.
Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said in front of
the upper house that the SNB's independence helped it to
maintain price stability, whereas the initiative would reduce
its room for manoeuvre when shaping monetary policy.
"If the SNB's gold reserves represented a substantial part
of its balance sheet ... this would hamper the SNB's ability to
act and might prevent it from fulfilling its constitutional
mandate," she said.
Although the SVP gathered the 100,000 signatures needed to
force a referendum on the issue, a popular vote on the proposal
may be years off. Both houses of parliament must first decide
whether to back or reject the proposal.
The lower house has yet to vote on the initiative.
The Swiss government recommended voting against the proposal
and Swiss National Bank Chairman Thomas Jordan has spoken out