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Opposition pledges fairer personal income tax system

Representatives of the united opposition, should they win the general election next spring, have pledged to make the personal income tax system fairer and to combat corruption.

They also vowed to introduce a European minimum wage as well as measures promoting a level playing field for entrepreneurs.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Marton Ilyes of Momentum said personal income tax brackets would not be hiked but the system could be made fairer by easing taxes for low earners, adding that taxes on the minimum wage were high in Hungary compared with other European Union member states.

Also, the opposition plans measures to narrow the gap between underdeveloped regions and more advanced ones, he said.

Laszlo Varju, a deputy leader of the Democratic Coalition, said business interests linked to the ruling Fidesz party had become rich at the expense of hard-working earners who were struggling to make ends meet. The government’s wage policy was “a mere band aid”, and changes were possible only if a European minimum wage, binding on all governments, were enacted, he said.

Jobbik deputy leader Daniel Z. Karpat said that despite the government’s policy of keeping Hungarian wages relatively low to make Hungarian labour competitive, minimum and average wages should be raised to be “closer to an acceptable European average”. Police officers, fire fighters, and health-care employees need to paid better in the hope of retaining their services, he added.

Parbeszed deputy group leader Bence Tordai vowed to “rid the Hungarian economy of corruption” and to make public procurement “transparent and fair”. Doing so would make the price of services and goods purchased through that system cheaper, he insisted.

Tordai pledged to scrap the law on strategic government investment projects and to review projects already completed. The opposition wants Hungary to join the European Public Prosecutor and to set up a national anti-corruption agency, he said.

An opposition government would review the assets of politicians through a new asset declaration system designed to show “how the wealth of decision makers has grown”, Tordai said.

In response, the deputy group leader of Fidesz said the opposition planned to scrap the minimum wage wholesale. In a video, Laszlo Borocz quoted Peter Marki-Zay, the prime ministerial candidate of the opposition alliance, as saying there was no need for a minimum wage at all. The Fidesz official said Marki-Zay had argued that the minimum wage carried “many disadvantages”.

Borocz said the minimum wage, however, meant employees were not exposed to the aggressive low-wage practices of multinationals, and he accused Marki-Zay if being “on the side of multinationals” instead of Hungarian employees. “Conversely, Fidesz is on the side of Hungarians, which is why we have raised the minimum wage to 200,000 forints (EUR 540), three times the amount it was last time round when there was left-wing government.”

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