Swiss to unveil 1.5 billion franc package to ease FX pain

Reuters

ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland's government will unveil a 1.5 billion Swiss franc ($1.9 billion) package to help the country deal with the strong currency when it meets later on Wednesday, a Swiss newspaper reported.

Investors concerned by the debt crisis in the euro zone and signs of a slowdown in the United Stated have piled into the safe-haven franc, which has set a series of record highs this year.

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The franc's rapid rise has prompted squeals from Swiss businesses and exporters, who see their margins dwindling, raising the pressure on Swiss officials to take decisive action.

As part of the new measures, the government will exempt small and medium-sized companies and hotels from social security contributions, the TagesAnzeiger newspaper reported, citing sources close to the Swiss cabinet.

The social security reductions, which could reduce the burden on companies by up to 1.3 billion Swiss francs, will be limited for one year, the paper said.

In addition, Economy Minister Joseph Schneider-Ammann plans to support the tourism industry and the commission for technology and innovation with 100 million francs each.

The measures outlines by the newspaper are similar to measures announced by the government earlier this year. The government in July rejected the idea of capital controls.

Speculation has also been rife that the Swiss National Bank, which is in talks with the Swiss government, could set a lower limit for the euro-Swiss franc exchange rate on Wednesday.

($1 = 0.791 Swiss Francs)

(Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Ramya Venugopal)