Finance Minister Mihaly Varga – Photo: Facebook

Finance Minister: 2024 the year of boosting growth

The year ahead will be the year of boosting Hungary's economic growth, the finance minister said on Thursday, adding that the state budget remained stable.

Mihaly Varga told a press conference that the government’s main goal was to keep reducing the deficit and the public debt, adding that “we’re on the right track.”

While 2023 had been a better year for the central budget than 2022, it was not as good as what the government expects from this year, the minister said. A total of 650 billion forints (EUR 1.7bn) was used to pre-finance European Union projects from last year’s budget, he added.

The budget “withstood difficulties without significant external assistance” last year, Varga said, noting that even with increased spending on pensions and defence, the cash flow-based budget deficit fell to 4,593 billion forints.

He said Hungary was one of only 16 EU countries last year to reduce its public debt-to-GDP ratio.

The minister also noted that the EU has transferred 470 billion forints in funding to Hungary over the last 10 days, adding that Hungary has reserves of over 1,200 billion forints.

Meanwhile, Varga said Hungary issued 2.5 billion US dollars of forex bonds on Wednesday. Offers for the 12-year bonds came to 5.6 billion dollars, “showing investor confidence in the Hungarian economy remains strong”, he added.

Varga noted that all of the big three rating agencies have Hungary’s sovereign rating in the investment grade category. Whereas 10 years ago, half of Hungary’s debt was held by foreigners, today this has been lowered to a quarter, he added.

In response to a question, he said the government put GDP growth at 3.6 percent for this year and had a deficit target of 2.9 percent of GDP.

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