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Fully 1.9 million parents will receive partial refunds of their 2021 personal income tax payments, a measure that totals 600 billion forints (EUR 1.7bn), while pensioners will receive a pension premium to make up for higher inflation, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said at the opening of parliament’s autumn session. He also addressed the lawmakers and said that Hungary’s strategy for beating the coronavirus pandemic would depend on its vaccination campaign.

Gov’t to Press Ahead With Special Fiscal Measures

Talks are underway to increase the minimum wage to 200,000 forints, the prime minister said, adding that the chance of a successful agreement was high.

Referring to questions the government put to the public in a recent survey, Orbán told lawmakers that responses to the National Consultation survey “are binding on the government”.

Minister Varga: EU Finance Ministers Agree Supportive Fiscal Policy Still Needed
Minister Varga: EU Finance Ministers Agree Supportive Fiscal Policy Still Needed

"The stand of the Hungarian government has been clear from the start: first the economy must be protected, then it must be re-started, and afterwards a gradual return to reducing the budget deficit can be made," Varga said.Continue reading

He said the measures built on earlier special support such as the loan moratorium for troubled borrowers and the phased reintroduction of the 13th-month pension.

Also, people below the age of 25 will be exempted from paying the personal income tax, while in early 2022 military and law enforcement personnel will get a special allowance for six months, Orbán said, adding that, in accordance with the results of the National Consultation, the government also intends to provide constitutional protection for family benefits, low taxes on labor and pensions.

Vaccinations Crucial for “Our Life, Freedom”

Orbán said vaccinations were the only effective way to tackle the virus, adding that after Hungary’s experiences gained after three waves of the epidemic it had become clear that restrictions and masks were not up to the job of defeating or even slowing down the virus.

But if there are enough people who have been vaccinated, normal life can be maintained, Orbán said.

Concerning booster jabs, he said that “having [the possibility] is better than not”, adding that people who receive the third jab would be “certainly better protected.”

So far some 525,000 people have received a booster shot, he said, adding 17 million doses are available this year.

Orbán noted that the majority of Hungarians were vaccinated and protected from the virus and appealed to people who have not got vaccinated to do so.

The prime minister said Hungary was prepared to respond to the second wave of the virus, adding that his government has asked parliament to prolong the special legal order and the special measures related to Covid until the end of the year.

“The vaccine works and Hungary works,” Orbán said. He said the economy “has got off to a flying start”, noting that GDP growth was 17.9 percent in the second quarter, the “highest figure ever recorded”. Hungary’s economic output has now surpassed pre-pandemic levels, while most European Union countries are “still waiting” to catch up, he said.

Orbán said full-year GDP growth would reach, or could even exceed, the government’s target of 5.5 percent.

Citing official data, he said more than 4.7 million people had jobs in July, adding that the country had not had this many people in employment since the change of regime in 1989. The economy added nearly one million jobs over the last 11 years, the prime minister said, adding that Hungary was “just one step away from full employment”.

Referring to questions the government put to the public in a recent survey, Orbán told lawmakers that responses to the National Consultation survey “are binding on the government”.

By Feb. 15, the government will refund a portion of personal income tax to parents raising children, he said. Fully 1.9 million parents will receive partial refunds of their 2021 personal income tax payments, a measure that totals 600 billion forints (EUR 1.7bn), Orbán said. Also, pensioners will receive a pension premium that is likely to be over 50,000 forints to make up for higher inflation, he said.

Talks are under way to increase the minimum wage to 200,000 forints, the prime minister said, adding that the chance of a successful agreement was high.

He said the measures built on earlier special support such as the loan moratorium for troubled borrowers and the phased reintroduction of the 13th month pension.

Also, people below the age of 25 will be exempted from paying the personal income tax, while in early 2022 military and law enforcement personnel will get a special allowance for six months, Orbán said, adding that, in accordance with the results of the National Consultation, the government also intends to provide constitutional protection for family benefits, low taxes on labour and pensions.

Turning to the recent developments in Afghanistan, Orbán said Hungary had joined the international military operation there at the request of the United States and had withdrawn its troops in parallel. He said it appeared that the US had “misjudged the situation in Afghanistan”.

The prime minister praised the efforts of the Hungarian troops, saying that he did not believe the threat related to Afghanistan had passed, as the crisis in the Central Asian country could trigger a new migration wave. Orbán said Hungary was sticking to its policy of strengthening its borders.

He said the Balkan migration route was again filling up with migrants who, he insisted, were being aided by organisations linked to US financier George Soros. Orbán said the number of migrants crossing the border illegally and people smugglers registered by the Hungarian authorities had tripled compared with last year.

“Hungary gets regularly stabbed in the back by Brussels,” Orbán said, adding that the government would stick to its guns and protect the borders in the face of heavy political pressure. He insisted that the bloc’s unity was being “shredded” due to disputes over migration, and only by handing the relevant powers back to member states would that unity be preserved.

Commenting the EC infringement procedure launched against Hungary because of the government’s child protection law, Orbán said: “We won’t allow space for any kind of sexual propaganda targeting our children.”

Orbán told parliament that Hungarian laws that ban sexual propaganda in schools and kindergartens as well as in advertisements were under attack by Brussels, which has formally called on Hungary to amend its laws on public education, advertising and the media.

“Their demands are absurd and run counter to the general belief in Hungary that the sex education of children should be exclusively determined by parents,” the prime minister said.

Orbán noted that the Hungarian people would have the final say on the issue in a referendum.

PM Orbán: Gov't Not Planning Stricter Coronavirus Measures
PM Orbán: Gov't Not Planning Stricter Coronavirus Measures

The country will not see another lockdown or even mandatory mask-wearing, as PM Orbán believes that these are of no use, and that only vaccination helps.Continue reading

“In Hungary it is up to the people to pass decisions on migration and child protection. In turn, Brussels and countries that favour migration and LGBTQ have never done the same: there, the elite rather than the people pass decisions on these issues,” Orbán said.

Featured image: Prime Minister Viktor Orbán addresses the opening session of the autumn term of Parliament on 20 September 2021. Photo by Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI