Prime Minister Viktor Orbán - Photo: PMO

Orbán: ‘Prosperous businesses crucial for prosperous country’

"The private success of Hungarian entrepreneurs is a precondition for the country to be successful, therefore the government is not jealous - on the contrary, it wishes each entrepreneur even more success, even more profit and further increasing assets," Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said.

Marking Hungarian Entrepreneurs’ Day, the prime minister spoke at an event organised by employer federation VOSZ, and said he hoped the prosperity of Hungarian businesses would eventually contribute to the welfare of the country. He added it was the “job and responsibility” of politicians to “coordinate the private achievements of businesses that they will be the achievements of the whole country”.

“We have a government that believes that a tide will lift all ships,” he said. Business people are motivated by earning a profit, “which is correct, it is called market and private property,” but politics is motivated by making the economy yield benefits to the nation, Orbán added.

He also added the same cause could serve both purposes: the current repurchase of Budapest Airport “is business for the entrepreneur and a national economy issue for the government”.

He said while in communist economics private and public benefits were antagonistic, in bourgeois economics they were interdependent and “the public benefit can only be promoted through private benefits; that will create cooperation and peace between the classes rather than fight.”

The greatest contribution of businesses to the welfare of the country is that they give people jobs, while they pay taxes, contributing to the public spending, their capital is a stabilising factor in the economy, and “if Hungarian businesspeople did not run their own ventures, foreigners would do and the profits would be exported,” Orbán said. Whereas they say “money does not stink”, “the owner does”, he said, adding that “it does matter who owns the capital”. He insisted that “50 percent of Hungarian banks must always be in Hungarian hands” to be able to manage such crises as the one in 2008-2009.

Orbán paid tribute to the late Hungarian businessman Sandor Demjan, who he said had taught him that “there is no success for Hungary without national self-esteem” and that “there is such thing as leftist patriotism which the right-wing can cooperate.”

Concerning his government’s achievements, Orbán said they had embarked on “an impossible venture” in 2010, when they decided to tackle the crisis by simultaneously enlarging the size of the economy and increasing employment, reducing the state debt and cutting taxes, “things that could only be possible according to liberal textbooks.” “We tried and we succeeded,” he said, adding that Hungary’s GDP had tripled in nominal terms, while one million jobs had been created and the tax wedge reduced by 41 percent.” He added that the goal was to further reduce the latter index.

As for the state debt, Orbán said it could be below 70 percent by the end of the year. He said the country’s vulnerability in terms of the state debt “has never been this low”, adding that compared with 4 percent in 2010, fully 22 percent of the country’s state securities were now owned by Hungarians. He also added that it was a “European record”.

Meanwhile, Orbán said the idea of the government’s eastern opening strategy had actually come from Demjan, with whom he had travelled to China together back in 2009 “to establish ties while we, [his party] were still in opposition”.

Orbán warned that in future “the traps of loans, energy prices and consumption must be avoided”. As for energy prices, he said families had been “saved from that trap” but they were still weighing on businesses. At its latest session, the government had decided to cut prices by 10 euros, the prime minister said, adding that the measures would soon be published. The government will continue working to implement further energy price cuts for businesses next year, Orbán said.

Concerning the “trap of indebtedness”, he said the government was trying to “take measures verging on the powers of the central bank to cut interest rates” but added that the “master of the base rate” was the central bank.

In the “classic” debate on higher interest rates and more security versus lower interest rates stimulating investments, the prime minister said his government had always been “on the side of entrepreneurs and the economy”. He said the government had an interest in stimulating growth through lending.

Orbán noted that the government had helped Hungarian entrepreneurs when interest rates were kept high by the central bank through launching loan schemes promoting their participation in large-scale projects such as “re-industrialisation” and “factory bailouts”.

Speaking about public consumption, Orbán said he was in agreement with the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry that it would return to earlier levels only in a longer period of time. He said “there is today more unjustified fear in the public regarding the future of the country’s economy than reality would justify” which is why the government needed to be cautious and send Hungarians the message that “2024 will be a hopeful year”.

Orbán said there were “myths” worth to be sometime reviewed also in the economy, making reference to the “myth that European Union members cannot prosper without community funding.”

The prime minister said the Hungarian government had been able to “fence off 2023” adding that in 2024 economic growth would “visibly return” without “a single penny in EU funding”. It shows that “the economy can be managed in way that growth is solely supported by the country’s own revenues and funds from the market rather than or without the money transfers customary in Europe,” he said.

It does not mean, he added, that the Hungarian government “would not collect those few wee billions that Europe owes us” but “it is important that the Hungarian government has self-confidence”.

He lamented that it was worth taking into consideration that the current crisis was linked to a global political and economic crisis. There will be new technologies emerging and an overall transformation taking place in IT with automatisation and digitalisation, and there also will be a new age of energetics, Orbán said. In a global transition Hungary needs to find its place and be among the winners. “We need to tune into new technologies and complete our network with eastern ties to replace western ones,” Orbán said.

Opening to the East is “not required by a selfish political interest” but those of the Hungarian economy and businesses, he said. To serve those interests Hungary should have a foreign policy committed to cooperation and connectivity, Orbán added. He also added, however, that “the government can only pave the way but the entrepreneurs will use it”.

Concerning priorities for the future, Orbán said the green economy and green energy, including nuclear energy could be the most profitable areas, followed by logistics, infocommunications, the defence industry, food production, pharmaceuticals, and vehicle making.

Concluding his speech, the prime minister encouraged entrepreneurs to cooperate with the governmnent and continue to contributing their ideas, and wished them “hefty profits, huge takings, and a multitude of job seekers” as well as “successful navigation on waters yet not seen.”

Leave a Reply