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Budget 2020: Family Friendly & Provides Security, or Unjust & Anti-Future?

MTI-Hungary Today 2019.06.19.

Finance Minister Mihály Varga on Wednesday set out the main goals of the 2020 budget of Hungary, namely support for families and ensuring resources for the action plan to protect the economy.

Addressing the 2020 budget debate, Varga said the government would reduce taxes and the public debt while increasing wages, investments, and striving for full employment.

Photo by Attila Kovács/MTI

The budget bill before MPs centres on providing families, children and teachers support and security. Varga said the aim was to make Hungary a family-friendly place. The government continues to put children’s interests first, he added.

Compared with this year’s budget, all priority areas in 2020 will enjoy more resources. Besides support for families, Varga highlighted education, health care, pensions, public sector wages, as well as defence and law enforcement as priority areas.

Govt Submits ‘Family-friendly’ 2020 Budget Bill to Parliament

The government’s 2020 budget proposal includes “exceptionally large” family support funds, ruling Fidesz’s budget spokesman Erik Bánki said in the general debate of the bill on Wednesday.

“This budget is not only for Hungarian families and businesses, but it will also improve the lives of all Hungarians,” Bánki said, highlighting tax cuts, less red tape and increased subsidies. He also noted that the bill aimed at covering public-sector spending from revenues.

The proposal “is fully in line with the goals and expectations of the Fidesz group,” he said.

Opposition: Government favors its circles and certain groups while neglects others

The opposition Jobbik party’s Dániel Z. Kárpát insisted that the bill would benefit certain groups while providing nothing to others.

He said Hungarians that had been “forced” to leave Hungary to find jobs in other counties. A housing programme is needed so people returning to Hungary will not spend years saving up for a home, he said.

Photo by Attila Kovács/MTI

Z. Kárpát also criticised the government for failing to provide a final account of the previous budget, which he said would make hinder decisions on allocations for next year’s budget.

According to the Socialists (MSZP), the bill “is unjust and anti-future”. Socialist leader Bertalan Tóth said the government sought to “redistribute” some 2,200 billion forints, the difference between this year’s revenues and those of 2020, and “spend it on itself and associated circles” rather than on efforts to help the country close the gap with its neighbours.

The Socialists propose that 1,000 billion forints or more should be re-allocated to pensions, education, health, and welfare services, Tóth said. He added that welfare services alone required 764 billion forints more than the proposed budget allocation.

Photo by Attila Kovács/MTI

Tóth insisted that the family benefit and maternity allowances “gyed” and “gyes” had not been raised since 2008 and he called for the former to be doubled and the other two tripled.

The Democratic Coalition (DK) said the bill reflected an effort to “do nothing, continue political propaganda and to simply survive”. DK leader Ferenc Gyurcsány said there was no “meaningful professional or civil control” over the budgeting process, adding that the proposal reflected Fidesz’s “reluctance” to introduce the euro in Hungary.

Photo by Zsolt Szigetváry/MTI

Gyurcsány criticised the government’s family policy, saying it went in the “wrong direction” and would yield “no positive results”. “We disagree with you from A to Z. And not just a bit. Very much,” he added.

Green opposition LMP‘s Antal Csárdi accused the ruling parties of wanting to exploit the present. He criticised the government for cutting spending on education, environmental protection and the fight against climate change while giving more money to multinational corporations.

Photo by Zoltán Máthé/MTI

Antal Csárdi said the bill failed to address Hungary’s wage, housing and climate crises and would not help single-parent families, forex debtors or young people starting out in life. Neither will the budget improve health care, education or the situation of pensioners, he added.

Opposition Párbeszéd called the bill a “sham”, saying that the health-care budget would barely change from this year’s while education would be “the biggest loser”. Párbeszéd MP Tímea Szabó said her party rejected the bill and would submit a comprehensive amendment proposal to it.

Photo by Attila Kovács/MTI

Tamás Mellár, another Párbeszéd lawmaker, said the Fiscal Council was wrong when it said the foundations of the Hungarian economy were stable. He said Hungary had a growth potential of 1-2 percent, which was being “propped up” to 4 percent. Mellár said that though this growth rate was sustainable, Hungary was headed towards a “dead end” and coming back from there would be painful.

State Audit Office: 2020 budget to promote ‘sustainable whitening’ of economy

The government’s 2020 budget bill “will help promote a sustainable whitening of the economy” and contribute to “predictable, stable economic processes”, the head of the State Audit Office (ASZ) said in the general budget debate in parliament on Thursday.

Photo by Attila Kovács/MTI

László Domokos said that the bill accorded with national and European laws and would ensure the necessary financing for the government’s social policy goals, as well as sufficient reserves to tackle unforeseeable risks.

Domokos said currently high economic growth offered an opportunity to prepare for periods of potential downturn, and “massive” central reserves would “manage unexpected situations or economic developments caused by external causes”.

Fiscal Council: budget bill reflects fiscal stability

Árpád Kovács, the head of the Fiscal Council, said that the budget bill “reflects fiscal stability”. “Where there is stability, there is room for economic and social policy manoeuvres,” he said, adding that the positive tendency had characterised Hungary’s budgets “for nearly a decade”.

Photo by Attila Kovács/MTI

Kovács said that the “outstandingly high” reserves proposed in the bill would eliminate any major risks associated with the budget. Targets are in line with actual figures for 2018 as well as planned 2019 figures and 2020 forecasts, he said.

“The Hungarian economy’s foundations are stable and its vulnerability has decreased,” Kovács added.

Featured photo by Tamás Kovács/MTI