Geneva bosses defend strategy to attract multinationals

3rd October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Geneva city bosses on Monday defended the canton's strategy to attract multinational firms, saying that the severe housing shortage was not due to thousands of expatriates in the region.

Nicolas Brunschwig, who heads the Federation of Romand Enterprises, noted that the expatriates were not here "to take up jobs and housing of the Swiss."

Francois Naef, who heads the Geneva Chamber of Commerce, said he found it "ridiculous" to think that these qualified workers from abroad were at the root of the canton's woes.

With a vacancy rate of just 0.25 percent in September, Geneva is suffering from a severe housing shortage.

A month before the federal elections, some political parties have pointed their fingers at highly paid foreigners who benefit from attractive tax rates and who have helped to push up property prices in the region.

But the Geneva bosses warned the canton would stand to lose more if the multinationals -- 931 of which hire 76,000 people -- were to leave.

Brunschwig noted that the percentage of Swiss nationals in these companies stands at around 60 percent.

For Naef, the housing shortage was due to a lack of political will, or

"overly strict legislation which has blocked construction over the last few years."

Multinationals with their European headquarters in Geneva include Procter & Gamble, Hewlett-Packard, Merck Serono and Caterpillar.

© 2011 AFP

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