A liberal news site predicts that the newly announced special taxes will trigger an infringement procedure by the European Commission. Pro-government commentators, on the other hand, lambast the left-wing opposition for ‘taking the side of big corporations.’
Hungarian press roundup by budapost.eu
Background information: Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced on Wednesday that a windfall tax will be introduced for the rest of this year and 2023 on selected businesses to subsidize low utility tariffs amid soaring energy prices, and to fund extra defense spending. The new tax, he said, would be levied on banks, insurers, large retail chains, energy and trading companies, telecommunications companies, and airlines that have made extra profits over the past few years. The announcement came one day after the introduction of a ‘war emergency’ which invested the government with special powers.
Commenting on the new taxes to be levied over the next 18 months on companies’ ‘extra profits’, hvg.hu’s Iván Sztojcsev believes that in most cases the new levies will ultimately be passed onto consumers in retail price rises. He quotes an analysis of similar taxes imposed on banks and telecommunication companies which showed that half the amount levied on those enterprises ended up being included in their tariffs or prices.
In another piece, hvg.hu is certain that confining the capped fuel price to Hungarian registered vehicles will be found in breach of EU rules by Brussels. As for the special windfall taxes, the liberal site repeats the assumption that consumers will ultimately bear the burden. For services where tariffs have been frozen by the government, the analysis predicts that maintenance costs will have to be cut back, resulting in stoppages becoming more frequent.
On Pesti Srácok, by contrast, Gergely Huth and Tamás Csizmadia write that taxing the winners of the war is proof of patriotic governance. The Left, they argue, would introduce painful austerity measures to cope with the financial problems caused by the war in Ukraine. A patriotic government, on the other hand, they assert, tries to protect the citizenry by levying the necessary contribution from big business.
In Magyar Nemzet, Tamás Pilhál also describes the left-wing opposition as an agent of international corporations. He accuses them of hypocrisy for lamenting that the new taxes will eventually be paid by consumers. The government will see to it that this never happens, he believes. Pilhál quotes the latest Századvég poll in which 84 percent of respondents expect corporations that gained extra profits during the Ukraine war to carry their share of the burden in protecting households and shoring up defense capabilities.
Featured image via Zoltán Fischer/MTI/Prime Minister’s Press Office