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Swiss extend short-time working to 18 months from 12

ZURICH (Reuters) - The Swiss government extended to 18 months from 12 the time it will compensate companies for putting staff on short working hours amid the coronavirus pandemic, it said on Wednesday.

It also said it anticipates a budget deficit of around 1 billion Swiss francs ($1.05 billion) next year, and said it would decide at year’s end how to pay back billions of debt it has accumulated to provide relief for struggling business. It assumed it would not have to raise taxes to repay the debt in the medium term.

The government last month phased out most restrictive measures as cases of the new coronavirus waned, declaring the country better equipped to handle any fresh flare-ups.

Reporting by Michael Shields; editing by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi