For Switzerland - a country with few resources and high import dependency - precaution has been important for many centuries. In order to achieve a certain degree of independence, the national economic supply system has developed the compulsory stockpiling system.
Compulsory stockpiling - like the entire national economic supply system - is based on cooperation between the state and the private sector: the federal government determines which vital goods must be kept in stock and also in what quantities. However, the federal government is not the owner of these compulsory stocks, but the companies themselves. If the economy can no longer meet the demand for vital goods due to a shortage, stocks can be released by order of the federal government. Compulsory stocks are a central instrument of National Economic Supply.
Companies that are required to hold compulsory stocks can join in compulsory stockholding organisations. The following compulsory stockholding organisations currently exist:
- Réservesuisse (grain, food and feed)
- Helvecura (therapeutic products)
- Agricura (fertilisers)
- CARBURA (petroleum products)
- Provisiogas (natural gas)
These compulsory stockholding organisations are self-help organisations under private law and provide services, e.g. in the field of imports and the financing of storage costs. They also represent the interests of the companies vis-à-vis the federal government and form the link between the state and the private sector.
They have set up guarantee funds to finance storage costs: These funds compensate the warehouse keepers for their storage costs and absorb price fluctuations of the stored goods. The costs of compulsory stockholding are passed on by the companies to the selling prices and are thus borne by the consumers.
In the event that a guarantee fund exists in a sector, the federal government obliges all compulsory stockholders to join the relevant compulsory stockholding organisation and pay contributions to the guarantee fund.
The Federal Office for National Economic Supply concludes compulsory stockholding agreements with the companies concerned. It supervises the compulsory stockholders and the compulsory stockholding organisations. It also checks that the resources in the guarantee fund are used for the intended purpose and that the contributions are proportionate.
Compulsory stock organisations
The guarantee funds are set up to cover the storage and capital costs as well as the price loss on compulsory stocks. The compulsory stock organisations also fulfil the tasks assigned to them by the Confederation in connection with compulsory storage (for example, managing stocks). The funds are managed by the organisations and are not owned by their individual members or by the Confederation.
The FONES examines whether funds are raised and used appropriately, ensuring that no profit or loss is made by the owners of compulsory stocks.
The guarantee funds are fed by two kinds of levies on stockpiled goods. Under one system, a charge is levied on both imported and domestically produced goods when they are placed on the market, while under the other, levies are imposed on imports at the border. CARBURA and réservesuisse raise levies for the guarantee funds on imports, while Provisiogas, Agricura and Helvecura raise levies when goods subject to stockpiling are first released on the market.
Last modification 17.05.2021