The prime minister said the public should not expect any further restrictions on day-to-day life for the time being – Photo: HirTv

Attacks on Hungary come from European left wingers, PM says

Orbán: Home construction VAT to revert to 5 percent

The VAT rate on home building carried out before December 31, 2022 will revert to 5 percent, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told Hir TV on Wednesday evening. Referring to Wednesday's cabinet meeting, Orbán said Katalin Novak, the minister of family affairs, presented the key elements of a new home building programme.

Also, the cabinet approved tax relief and economic recovery measures in connection with the coronavirus put forward by the operative board for economic protective measures. Elective operations will not be postponed for the time being, he said, adding that although the epidemic was likely to continue intensifying over the next three weeks, there were no large-scale changes that would warrant any cancellations of regular health-care services.

Covid patients are being treated in “frontline” hospitals designated to handle Covid patients, Orbán said, adding that the ratio of doctors and nurses to patients was still easily manageable.

The prime minister said the public should not expect any further restrictions on day-to-day life for the time being, adding that this stance reflected the will of Hungarians who expressed their opinion through the National Consultation. The results clearly showed that people’s top priority was to keep the country going, he added.

Commenting on a vote by lawmakers on Tuesday to hike doctors’ pay, the prime minister said there was “no time like the present”. He said it was likely that the epidemic would endure for the next 7-8 months, and without a vaccine, doctors would continue to contend with a massive burden.

Hungarian doctors “are among the world’s best”, he said, adding they were in demand abroad. In addition to decent wages, the atmosphere in hospitals and good career prospects play a role in a doctor’s decision “whether to go or stay” in the country, Orbán said. The cost to the central budget of the wage hike would more than double, he said, putting the figure in excess of 200 billion forints (EUR 550m).

Orbán said the wage scheme and the new rules on gratuity payments were drafted “meticulously”, based on the proposal put forward by the Hungarian Chamber of Doctors (MOK).

Orbán was asked about the chamber’s recent criticism of the measure passed by parliament on Tuesday which allows doctors to be assigned to different parts of the country. “We have a pandemic, assigning doctors is a matter of life and death,” he said, adding that doctors “cannot be just dragged back and forth” on a daily basis. “Hospitals must be well managed” and doctors should be assigned only “if there is a problem” in a particular area.

Commenting on the European Court of Justice’s ruling on Hungary’s higher education law, Orbán said the court’s judgments, regardless of lawmakers’ opinions about them, were always implemented, and this would not cause much difficulty given “the many legal solutions possible”.

Put to him that financier George Soros had “called on the EU to sue Hungary”, Orbán said if someone wanted to do so, “that’s fine”. “We’re not spoiling anything that’s good,” he said. “Soros is the kind patriot of whom nobody would be surprised when he attacks his own country abroad,” Orbán added.

The prime minister said attacks on Hungary came from European left wingers who were not in power in their own countries, and their motivation was to win power. Orbán called this “internationalist aid”, and he likened it to times when Soviet troops were commanded to Hungary to protect the Communists.

He insisted that the situation was now the same. “The Hungarian left wing is weak and the people are against it; indeed, [left wingers] are against the people,” he said. “International troops are used to provide internationalist help,” he said, adding that help was at hand from Brussels to the Hungarian left wing in their bid to assume power.

Commenting on the opposition, Orbán likened it to a sausage casing “with the meat ground up and stuffed from the far right to the Communists”, and he accused financier George Soros of being “behind it”. “That’s why I call it the Soros sausage”.

Referring to European commissioner Vera Jourova and her criticisms of the government, Orbán said: “This woman from the Czech Republic thinks Hungarians are dunces who are incapable of making their own decisions.” He added that her remarks had been “so insulting” to the Hungarian people that it was time for her “to stop”. “This is no longer politics but something that goes deeper, and we’d rather stop it,” he said, accusing Jourova of being “Soros’s creature” in the European Commission, “eating from the palm of his hand”.

Commenting on the mayor of Budapest’s observation that it’s possible for the EU to finance local governments directly, Orbán noted that the EU budget contained large sums that are not distributed by EU member states but can be applied for through programmes, adding that Hungarian left-wing local governments could have done so, but they had not succeeded well so far. Local councils, he added, were “better off” leaving it to the state to “uphold the interests of the Hungarian people”.

On the topic of the planned EU recovery fund, Orbán said Hungary had assented to its creation because various European countries, especially in the south, would collapse without this form of financial assistance. “That’s why we decided that, notwithstanding Hungary’s doubtful view [of such types of debt] … we followed European logic and took solidarity into account and decided to take the risk together with the others.”

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