The government has extended the price freeze until 30 June, the Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office announced at the Government Infopoint in Budapest on Thursday. Gergely Gulyás also said that agricultural irrigation will be free of charge this year.
The minister said that the Russian-Ukrainian war is having a serious economic impact all over the world, with inflation records being broken from the United States to Western Europe. In Central Europe, too, inflation is at its highest level since the post-change years. He added that the government is doing its utmost to ensure that inflation in Hungary reaches single digits by the end of the year, and that many factors must work together to achieve this.
Gergely Gulyás welcomed the statement by the vice-president of the central bank that the Monetary Council could decide next week on lowering the upper end of the interest rate corridor. This is the first positive sign that could point towards a reduction in inflation, he added.
The politician said it was in the interests of the whole world that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) should not get involved in the Russia-Ukraine war, saying it would turn into a world war and lead to nuclear war. Gulyás said that hundreds of thousands of people had died in the war and that more and more weapons were being put on the front line on both sides, which meant that the war could drag on indefinitely.
He added: weapons containing radioactive material have also appeared, some Western countries (the UK, ed.) are supplying depleted uranium weapons and the Russians are testing nuclear bombs.
He said that while there were questions about economic assistance, Hungary had helped Ukraine so far and was ready to continue to do so. Gulyás Gergely said that the
Hungarian government was not supplying arms or allowing any arms shipments to the belligerents to pass through its territory, and that it would not change its position.
The government wants to mitigate the damage caused to farmers by last year’s drought, so this year agricultural irrigation will be free of charge, the minister continued. The government will cover the costs of irrigation, Gergely Gulyás said. Last year the weather had caused a uniquely difficult year for agriculture, but this year it has been kind to farmers for the time being.
The minister also said that the government had banned imports of twenty-five products from Ukraine, including rapeseed, sunflower seeds, flour, edible oil, honey and some meat products, until 30 June. And for products imported from other countries, a mandatory declaration in the electronic system for the control of trade in goods has been introduced.
Transit movements are still possible. The authorities will seal the borders and monitor the consignments with electronic devices and patrols, he said. He recalled that even the European Commission had argued that Ukrainian grain should leave Ukraine to help Africa, but was destroying the Hungarian agricultural market.
Hungary is happy to help Ukraine, but the limit of solidarity is that it cannot destroy the Hungarian economy, especially agriculture. Corn imports increased by 7,000 percent and wheat imports by 1,000 percent between 2021 and 2022, he said. This has ruined the distribution channels for agriculture, especially in the Ukrainian border countries. There are also quality objections to the grain coming from Ukraine, so it is not worth simply examining whether the ban might have a price-raising effect,” Gergely Gulyás stressed.
The government will introduce a new tool to drive down prices from 1 July at the latest: it will oblige food retail chains with significant turnover to announce promotions, a government spokesman said. Basic foodstuffs are divided into 20 categories, such as poultry, cheese or bread, pastries, vegetables, fruit and cold cuts. In each category, the retailers concerned must offer a product of their choice at a price at least 10 percent lower than the lowest price recorded in the 30 days preceding the promotion, he said.
It is not the aim for food chains to make the biggest profits in their history at this time, there is no room for profiteering in these difficult times,
He added that a joint online price monitoring system between the consumer protection and economic competition authorities will also come into force from 1 July at the latest, which will increase competition and prevent overpricing by allowing consumers to compare prices.
The Hungarian government welcomes with respect the representatives of all states. They are coming to Hungary to deepen relations between the two countries, he said, responding to press reports that the US ambassador was sent to Hungary to guide the left.
The US was late with its poster campaign (“Russians Go Home”, ed.), the minister said in response to a question. It would have served the country’s independence in 1956, but at the time, the Suez crisis or the presidential elections were more important to them.
War in Ukraine
There are two positions on the war. One is that there should be a ceasefire and negotiations. However, the fact of a ceasefire does not mean the recognition of the current borders imposed by the front lines, but it would mean an end to the killing. The other position is that the war should continue as long as the same lines between the two countries are recognized by international law. Those who advocate the second are advocating a war that will last for months or years, he stressed.
The minister did not want to speculate on the date of ratification by the Hungarian parliament of Sweden’s accession to NATO. He said that trust between the two countries must be restored through dialogue, to which Hungary is open. At the same time, he added that Swedish opinions have been expressed recently which justify the need for a minimum level of mutual trust.
Swedish PM Ulf Kristersson (L) and Finnish PM Sanna Marin. Photo: Facebook Sanna Marin
When asked about corruption in Brussels, Gergely Gulyás said that as a member of the EU we are interested in ensuring that the EU headquarters “work well and are above suspicion”, but that “Brussels is full of corruption” and that cases of “undue influence” are still emerging.
It must be made clear that in Brussels there are no other orders and norms than Community law,” he said, stressing that we support the investigation of such cases.
Speaking about EU foreign policy, he recalled that the main criticism of Hungary is that the big member states of the EU do not recognize and represent European interests, while the big players in international diplomacy stand up for their own interests.
In his view, the French President’s statements during his visit to China were “a courageous step and initiative to make Europe recognize its own interests and to act accordingly”. He stressed that it was in Europe’s interest to have free trade, and that this should include “economic relations not only with our allies, but also with the East of the world”.
The minister said
it was premature to ask whether the Hungarian government would support the re-election of German politician Ursula von der Leyen, who currently heads the European Commission, to this post.
At the same time, he said that the German EU parties had recently decided to support the re-election of Ms von der Leyen, who was present at the meeting. He described as “speculation” and not particularly well-founded reports that the German politician could continue her career as NATO Secretary General.
On EU funding, he said that “agricultural funds are coming to Hungary unhindered, this does not affect the ongoing debate on cohesion funds”.
Featured Photo: Facebook Gergely Gulyás