Domestic Politics
Hungary's Parliament (photo: public domain)

Hungarian Parliament Passes Several Laws And Amendments Including Restriction On Wind Farm Constructions

Hungary’s National Assembly approved several laws and law amendments on Monday, including an amendment to Hungary’s health and health insurance laws, a law on the non-pecuniary transfer of state and local-council-owned property, a law tightening conditions for building wind farms and a bill that reduces the payroll tax. Furthermore, the government submitted a proposals under which owners of  foreign bank accounts can declare deposits outside Hungary.

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Health and health insurance

Parliament approved an amendment to Hungary’s health and health insurance laws, incorporating the guarantees urged by President János Áder, who had returned the amendment to parliament for consideration. Under the changes, passed by parliament on Nov. 22, health authorities would have been granted the power to enter and search any facility on their own, without the consent of the owner. The authority would have had the power to question the owner or employees, as well as to search vehicles. Áder said in a letter to parliament that those changes, if signed into law, could impact the constitutional rights of citizens while allowing actions that would not necessarily be purposeful or proportionate. In line with the new amendment approved by parliament, the consent of the prosecutor’s office is required for the health authorities to enter and search a facility.

Property law

Lawmakers passed a resubmitted law on the non-pecuniary transfer of state and local-council-owned property that President János Áder had sent back to parliament for reconsideration. Áder expressed concerns over the planned transfer of Budapest’s Erzsébet Square and several surrounding properties to the state from the metropolitan council. Lawmakers approved the law with 128 votes in favour, 34 against and 22 abstentions. Áder had said that a property transfer should only be completed with consent from the municipality, adding that neither the city council nor the mayor of Budapest had been consulted before the bill was tabled. The Budapest council earlier expressed its “surprise” that ownership of the square was being transferred to the state, saying it had not been consulted. Under the original law, the 2.6 hectare square itself and three adjacent properties are to be transferred to the state on Dec. 15 without any money changing hands. The justification of the law says the downtown square as a public park would thus be handled and operated “in a unified way”. The reconsidered law postpones the deadline of transfer from Dec. 15 to 31, and stipulates that the sides concerned should conclude the contract on operation by Jan. 31, one month later than originally scheduled.

Wind farms

Lawmakers passed with minor changes a law tightening conditions for building wind farms that President János Áder had sent back to parliament for reconsideration. Áder had returned the legislation to lawmakers for reconsideration, arguing that it effectively makes the construction of wind farms impossible. János Lázár, the government office chief, earlier said the government disagreed with Áder’s stance on the issue of wind power generation. Lázár argued that Hungary would be able to reach the goals outlined in the Paris climate change agreement without more wind power. He said the cabinet’s standpoint was not negative but rather cautious for certain ecological and economic reasons. The MPs voted for the resubmitted law with 127 in favour and 56 against.

Reducing payroll tax

Parliament approved a bill that reduces the payroll tax from 27% to 22% from next year, and to 20% from 2018. The bill adjusts the healthcare contributions accordingly, reducing them from 27% to 22% for 2017. Economy Minister Mihály Varga submitted the bill to parliament earlier in December. The planned payroll tax cut was announced in November after the government reached an agreement with employers and unions on a big minimum wage increase. The bill also establishes a 9% flat-rate corporate tax from Jan. 1. The corporate tax rate is currently 10% on a tax base up to 500 million forints (EUR 1.6m) and 19% above that. The law was passed with 146 in favour, 7 against and 27 abstentions.

“Last chance” proposal

The Hungarian government also submitted to Parliament a package of amendment proposals under which owners of bank accounts in other countries would be granted a “last chance” to declare deposits outside Hungary. The economy ministry said 2017 would mark a milestone in the government’s fight against “offshore systems and international tax evaders” and warned that from next year on the tax authority would be receiving information from 70 countries concerning large amounts owned by Hungarian nationals and kept in banks of those countries. Based on the information received, NAV will identify those who have concealed income generated in Hungary, the ministry said. To avoid possible sanctions, such taxpayers will have the opportunity to declare their assets and pay a 10% tax before June 30 next year, according to the proposal.

via hungarymatters.hu and MTI