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Opposition calls for special parliamentary session over ‘cost-of-living crisis’

Six opposition parliamentary groups have called for an special session of parliament to be convened on Aug. 8 to discuss their proposals to mitigate "the cost-of-living crisis" they say has gripped the country.

Representatives of Momentum, Democratic Coalition, Parbeszed, the Socialists, LMP and Jobbik told a joint press conference about their bill to withdraw changes to the tax on small businesses (kata) and keep the full cap on household energy bills and the price of basic foodstuffs in place. Further, they propose VAT cuts, a public transport “climate pass” — a 5,000 forint monthly voucher to encourage car users to switch to public transport — and a nationwide home insulation programme.

Momentum’s Miklos Hajnal said the special session would present an opportunity to postpone any changes made to kata to next January to allow time for consultations with advocacy groups and to introduce any changes. Meanwhile, a looming “social crisis” in Hungary during “this age of austerity” would also require immediate action, he said, accusing the government of getting Hungarians “to pay for its wasteful spending during the elections and for its failed economic policy”.

Olga Kalman of DK said the party called on the government to withdraw its “utility price rise” and draft regulations for “family-friendly, economically sustainable utility price cuts”. She accused Prime Minister Viktor Orban of “lying as he talked of protecting the utility price caps while raising prices and implementing the largest austerity package of all time.”

Parbeszed group leader Bence Tordai said Hungary had been “hit by a brutal food crisis”, with skyrocketing prices and growing inflation. The party calls on the government to boost food self-sufficiency, reintroduce the strategic food reserves abolished in 2016, and to take steps to adapt to climate change, he said.

LMP proposed a “climate pass” for public transport to help those hit hard by rising fuel prices and to encourage motorists to use public transport.

Agnes Kunhalmi of the Socialists said the party called for launching a home insulation programme as a means to ensure sustainable utility price cuts for families.

Jobbik called for VAT cuts on basic foodstuffs and products used mostly by families raising children. The government should also waive VAT on gas, electricity and firewood, parliamentary group leader Laszlo Lukacs said.

Ruling Fidesz said in reaction that the left had “fallen apart” after the spring general election and were now “subserviently doing as they are told” by Democratic Coalition leader Ferenc Gyurcsany, “setting the stage for him”. Europe is suffering from the effects of the war in Ukraine and the related “sanctions imposed by Brussels”, including wartime inflation and a wartime economic and energy crisis, Fidesz said in a statement.

“If it were up to the left, this crisis would have swept Hungary away by now because the left wants to drag the country into war and make the people pay the price of the war,” the party said. The measures protecting Hungarian families from drastic price increases are unparalleled across Europe, Fidesz added.

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