The latest upgrade comes thanks to the work of Hungarians and businesses as well as the government's economic policy, Varga said. He noted that the economy had expanded 4.8 percent last year, three times the European average. "Now nobody can deny that the Hungarian economy is performing ever better and can continue to expand in the coming years," Varga asserted.

Fitch Ratings raised Hungary's Long-Term Foreign- and Local-Currency Issuer Default Ratings to "BBB" from "BBB-" at a scheduled review on Friday. The outlook for the ratings, which are two notches over the investment grade threshold, is "stable".

Varga recalled that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán had said in 2011 – after the country's sovereign rating was bumped down to speculative grade – that downgrades would be followed by upgrades. The economic policy the government has followed in the past years has proved that the Hungarian economy has become stronger, and the economic policy measures taken since that time have won over even the doubtful rating agencies, the minister said.

Varga acknowledged that Hungary's sovereign rating had stood at the same level earlier under Socialist governments, but he said economic growth at that time was the product of credit and privatisation revenues.

Now, the level of state debt relative to GDP was on a steady decline, the general government deficits were lower, the government was not privatising state assets and the current account balance continued to show a surplus. Hungary's economic growth, the government's economic policy, a disciplined fiscal policy, low inflation and the country's balanced position had led to the upgrade by Fitch, a week after another one by Standard and Poor's.

Varga said Fitch had acknowledged a reduction in vulnerability, strong economic growth, a decline in public debt, low levels of foreign exchange debt and an improvement in competitiveness in its analysis of Hungary. At the same time, the rating agency had pointed out risks, notably signs of a slowdown in EU growth and challenges on the labour market.

Hungary's government had already acknowledged these risks and earlier started working on measures that aimed to protect the economy. The goal was to reduce the unemployment rate further and to see wages continue to rise.


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