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Local News Summary of March, 3rd

  • Initiative against overpriced parking fees in the city centre
  • Novartis shareholders approve all motions at general assembly

Initiative against overpriced parking fees in the city centre

Basel’s commerce has launched a new initiative. The innkeepers’ association and traders are calling for “fairer parking fees”. The initiative “Mehr Stadtbelebung, weniger Schikane” (For a livelier city and less chicanery) was handed over at the town hall yesterday. For some, there are still too many parking spaces while other people struggle to find one – and if they do, according to campaigners, the prices are way too high. Particularly in comparison to nearby France and Germany, the fees for above-ground parking spaces are very expensive, a committee concluded in May 2017. Yesterday, a group of enthusiastic campaigners gathered to hand in the about 3,500 signatures at the town hall. These included: the president of the Trade Association Basel, Marcel Schweizer, ts director Gabriel Barrell, Grand Council members André Auderset and Luca Urgese, and Maurus Ebneter, initiator and spokesperson for the Innkeepers’ Association.

The final word

Mr Ebneter is happy that the necessary signatures were gathered in less than nine months. When asked if cheaper parking fees would really result in a more lively city centre he stated the “entire package” was crucial for Basel’s city centre. Affordable parking spaces are a part of this package, he added. However, Basel’s citizens will have the final word. For the next step, the citizens of Basel will have to cast a vote to decide if the city’s parking fees are too high. For example, if a hotel guest parks his or her car at the edge of Basel’s city centre, the cost is three Swiss francs per hour. That’s expensive, especially because this tariff also applies for parking at night and on Sundays. In other cities, night time and Sunday parking is free, the initiators say, and hence they are calling for change in Basel.

Visitor charged 37 francs to park overnight

Likewise, the fees for car parks should be the same as everywhere else in the region – that way, the city centre would remain attractive for drivers, campaigners claim. Urs Füeg from the Hotel Merian recalled the experience of one his guests. “Recently, I had a guest who arrived here in Basel one evening in order to catch a very early flight from the EuroAirport the next day,” he said. “He found a parking space at Claragraben, and he was happy about this at first – but only until he saw the parking meter. Parking his car from 7pm to 7.30am would have cost 37 francs – to be paid in small change only. This episode shows how unrealistic and thoughtless Basel’s tariff policy really is.”

The initiators also emphasise that parking in Lörrach, Mulhouse, Colmar, or Genevaovernight is sometimes free of charge. In Freiburg im Breisgau, overnight parking costs between four and nine Euros. A lively city centre needs free parking at night and on Sundays, campaigners claim.

Novartis shareholders approve all motions at general assembly

Novartis shareholders approved all motions put forward by the administrative board at the ordinary general assembly held yesterday. A total of 1,731 shareholders were in attendance,who between them own around 62,2 per cent of all Novartis shares. The shareholders agreed to a share dividend increase, the 21st in a row since the foundation of Novartis in 1996. This is equivalent to an increase of two per cent (up to 2.80 francs) for 2017. The dividend payout for 2017 is set for 8 March. The dividend for 2017 corresponds to a payout ratio of about 67 per cent of free cash flow and underlines the company’s commitment for a strong dividend return.

Annual re-election and election of the administrative board members

The shareholders also confirmed the re-election of Dr Jörg Reinhardt as administrative board president as well as the re-election of all other board members for another year. Dr Pierre Landolt retired from his position due to reaching the age limit. The administrative board thanked him for his valuable contributions to the long-term strategy of Novartis and for his great personal commitment for corporate responsibility in particular. In addition, the shareholders also elected board members Srikant Datar, Ph.D, Ann Fudge, Enrico Vanni, and William T Winters as members of the Compensation Committee for another year. Mr Vanni is head of this group.

A total of 66,220,000 shares were annulled, which had originally been reacquired in the fiscal year 2017 on the second trading line as part of the seventh share reacquisition programme. The share capital therefore dropped from 1,308,422,410 francs to 1,275,312,410 francs. In two separate binding votes, the shareholders approved the maximum overall compensation sum for administrative board members from the GV 2018 to the GV 2019. They also accepted the maximum overall compensation sum for the executive management for 2019.

Finally, the shareholders approved the 2017 compensation report in a consultative vote. The publication of the compensation report was much improved, which it was said was beneficial to transparency. This report informs stakeholders about prospective changes in the compensation system. They rely on constructive feedback received by shareholders, on company strategy, and the development of market practices.