Finance Minister Mihaly Varga – Photo: MTI

Fidesz: Economy to see 'unprecedented growth spurt'

Finance minister: Action plan to relaunch economy at heart of 2022 budget

The action plan to relaunch the economy is at the heart of the 2022 budget and will help people facing hardships due to the coronavirus pandemic back on their feet, Finance Minister Mihaly Varga said on Sunday. Varga told public Kossuth Radio that Hungary wants to recover its pre-pandemic growth rate as soon as possible. This may happen as early as 2022, he said.

This year the economy is expected to return to the level where it was at the end of 2019, before the pandemic, he said. In 2022, growth of 5.2 percent and a deficit target of 5.9 percent of GDP are targeted, while the debt rate is expected to return to a path of decline, Varga added.

The minister cited important social policy targets, such as family support, 13th month pensions, and the introduction of a personal income tax holiday for the 25s.

He said that since 2016, the greatest impetus for economic growth resulted from an agreement with employers and employees involving tax cuts and wage increase.

“If we can return to that path, with continual, vigorous wage increases coupled with tax cuts, then the Hungarian economy’s competitiveness can improve and the growth path can be expected to be steadily in the 4-5 percent range,” Varga said.

Fidesz: Economy to see ‘unprecedented growth spurt’

Fidesz’s parliamentary group sees the economy enjoying an unprecedented growth spurt, with 5.5 percent targeted, resulting in measures aimed to help ordinary Hungarians, the ruling party’s group leader said in a radio interview on Sunday. Summing up Fidesz’s recent group meeting in Debrecen, Mate Kocsis said the relaunch of social life and the economy was a focal point of discussions.

The 1-1.5-month headstart given thanks the Hungary’s successful vaccination drive will add 1 percentage point to GDP this year, “giving us hope that we’ll be able to introduce a number of economic measures that are out of the ordinary”, he said.

With growth of 5.1 percent by the start of 2022, pre-crisis GDP levels would be reached, he said, adding that 5.5 percent would pay for lower taxes on labour, a higher minimum wage — the basic wage possibly hiked to 200,000 forints (EUR 570) and the one for skilled workers to 260,000 forints — while income tax would be waived for the under-25s. Further, families would enjoy a  tax refund, he said.

Kocsis said the coronavirus pandemic had hit a strong Hungarian economy, meaning the recovery would be easier.

The coming years, he said, would be “dangerous”, characterised by epidemics and mass migration. Referring to the upcoming National Consultation public survey, he said this is why it was necessary to find out people’s opinions. Also, their voice would add legitimacy to Hungary’s position in the course of European debates.

Meanwhile, commenting on the paedophile law, he said the legislation was largely focused on criminal aspects of regulation against paedophiles.

“The law’s about protecting children,” he said, adding there was little to debate when it came to outlawing “sex propaganda” in the lives of 5-10 year-olds. “Content inappropriate to a child’s age should be excised from their lives and education,” he said, adding that sex education was a matter for parents. NGOs, he said, rather than providing educational materials, peddled propaganda.

The law, Kocsis said, did not disseminate information about various sexual identities, neither did it exlude anyone. “It merely protects the child from content that is inappropriate for their age”, while broadening parental rights.

He said he was “surprised” that the EU saw the law as a human rights issue. “I’d always thought protecting children is a common European value,” Kocsis said.

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