The Hungarian government must stick to its utility price cuts, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Friday.
In his regular interview to public broadcaster Kossuth Radio, Orbán said several European countries were facing utility crises because “Brussels bureaucrats” believed rising utility prices were the way to transition to renewable energy sources.
“They’re deliberately raising the prices,” Orbán said, adding that views on the issue were divided along political lines, and that Hungary’s left wing wanted utility prices to be set by the market.
The government has rejected this and protected low utility prices in parliament as well, Orbán said. If the government had accepted the energy prices favoured by the previous Socialist-liberal governments, an average family would be paying over 360,000-370,000 forints (EUR 1,000-1,031) more in utility costs annually, the prime minister said.
Utility prices are a highly sensitive issue for a country like Hungary, because “they can cause Hungarian families a lot of pain”, Orbán said.
“We believe utility prices should be cut and the social situation of families should be protected,” he said, adding that Brussels, on the other hand, believed that if utility prices are raised, economies could be forced to transition to greener energy sources. “Brussels is not the solution, but the problem itself,” the prime minister said.
Orbán said Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic were demanding that Brussels repeal the regulations that had led to the current high prices. The three countries have put forward several proposals to this end, and the issue must be discussed again at the next EU summit in two weeks’ time, he said.
On another subject, Orbán said Hungary had still not received the funds it was entitled to from the EU’s post-pandemic recovery package. “This isn’t fair and it means that it’s not a level playing field,” he added.
He said the EU was making the transfer of funds conditional on Hungary allowing LGBTQ activists into schools. “Fortunately the Hungarian economy is performing well, and we don’t want to accept the money at the cost of ceding our right to our children’s sex education,” Orbán said. “We are entitled to this money, it’s just that this disagreement is causing a delay in the transfers.”
Meanwhile, Orbán said he will receive his Covid booster jab next week and advised Hungarians to also get their third jab. Given that the coronavirus is still new, no one knows anything certain about it, but several variants of it have already been identified and more are likely to emerge, he said.
“But what all doctors are certain of is that the vaccine works and it’s preferable to get a booster shot,” Orbán added.
He said that despite not having received a Nobel Prize for her work with mRNA technology, Hungarian biochemist Katalin Kariko “is our hero and she saved millions of lives”.
“This may not be deserving of a Nobel Prize, but she has done heroic work and we are very proud of her,” Orbán said.
Featured photo by Zoltán Fischer/PM’s Press Office