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The spring session of Parliament began on Monday, with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán addressing the House before the agenda. He spoke about the economic situation, inflation, the war in Ukraine, and various family protection measures. He said that Hungary could moderate inflation, and the government’s aim was to achieve single-digit inflation by the end of the year.
The prime minister said that in 2022, the economy grew by 4.6 percent, there were more jobs than ever before, export performance exceeded all previous records, and last year saw the highest level of capital imports into Hungary for more than 20 years. He added that in February 2023, a 15 percent increase in pensions and a 15 percent increase in the 13th month pension were seen, and a new measure was added to the family support package, with women who have children not having to pay personal income tax until the age of 30.
On the subject of war, he stressed that the Hungarian government was seriously concerned that “step by step, the whole of Europe is being dragged into war.” European countries are sending tanks, fighter jets are on the agenda, and if this continues, there will be those who want to send troops to Ukraine, he said.
The prime minister said that the sanctions were causing energy prices to rise, making transport and production more expensive, and that food prices, shop prices, and the prices of services were also rising. He pointed out that a country like Hungary, which has no oil and gas and has to import most of its energy, is particularly hard hit by inflation.
We have high industrial production, we have no energy sources of our own, so we have higher than average inflation due to energy price sanctions and it takes longer to break them down,”
he explained, adding that the Hungarian government has so far taken 20 measures to fight inflation and protect families, ten of which protect jobs and ten others protect families and pensioners.
Orbán pointed out that the government had decided to maintain the system of fixed prices for utility bills for families and pensioners in 2023, up to the level of average consumption.
The government has also increased the minimum wage and the guaranteed minimum wage, tripling it between 2010 and 2023.
He also pointed out that the government had restored the 13th month pension as of January 1, 2022.
Orbán indicated that food price freezes have been extended and expanded by the government, and that the decision in principle has been made to maintain the price freeze until inflation can be brought down. He added that this was also the case for the retail interest rate freeze, which was also extended and expanded, and for student loans.
Listing the measures to protect jobs, the prime minister said that small and medium-sized enterprises active in the energy-intensive manufacturing industry will be supported with a total of HUF 220 billion, and HUF 290 billion will be spent on a preferential loan program for Hungarian small businesses in 2023, among other things.
In addition, the government has announced the Factory Rescue Program and the related Factory Rescue Guarantee and Loan Program. At the same time, the Gábor Baross re-industrialization loan scheme has also been announced. Orbán also said that an agricultural moratorium has been declared to protect Hungarian farmers, so 7,500 agricultural businesses will not have to pay repayments and interest on HUF 285 billion in loans for 16 months.
The government is also launching a tourism action plan, he continued, to ensure that such businesses do not have to pay development contributions. The government has decided to double the amount of the commuting allowance, so that employers can subsidize the commute of 100,000 workers tax-free with twice the amount. He added that a labor subsidy scheme has also been announced, whereby a company that hires a job-seeker under 25 or unemployed for at least one month, will be subsidized by 50 percent of the wage bill for six months.
The prime minister stressed that
in the next decade, Hungarian industry will be modernized and developed at a fast pace, and economic policies favorable to domestic and foreign investment will be pursued.
He said that decisions had been made to develop green energy, to speed up the Paks power plant II project, and to bring gas turbine power plants on stream.
Orban stressed that in recent weeks, the government has also had to deal with a “shocking and outrageous pedophile case.” The number of cases of child pornography in Hungary is rising sharply, he said, adding that “one cannot in all reason understand how this can happen in Hungary.” He said that “such things have no place in Hungary, especially in our schools,” and that the government had given clear instructions to the authorities to investigate all such cases.
The prime minister asked all parliamentary groups to cooperate in the protection of children.
Speaking again about the war in Ukraine, Orbán said that “we mourn those Hungarians who died on the front line of the Ukrainian-Russian war.” It is painful that even in times of war, our compatriots in Transcarpathia, Ukraine, are subjected to atrocities, that the right to use the Hungarian language is being truncated, and that Hungarian school principals are being replaced. He stressed that the Hungarian Foreign Ministry must make it clear that the Hungarians of Transcarpathia deserve more respect than that.
Featured photo via MTI/Koszticsák Szilárd