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Parbeszed slams 2022 ‘election budget’

Opposition Parbeszed has criticised the government's 2022 draft budget, calling it an "election budget" that would benefit "the usual contractors" involved in investment projects rather than the Hungarian people.

“The government is carrying on with its habit of flooding the entire country with cement if it has just to guarantee contracts for its own construction companies,” Sandor Burany, Parbeszed’s deputy group leader, told an online press conference.

Burany added that it was “pointless” to submit next year’s draft budget this early given the uncertainty around the pandemic.

He said it was also clear that the government would be incapable of meeting many of its targets, including its 3 percent inflation target.

The public debt level targeted by the budget “is essentially the same as where the government started from in 2010, even though they have since stolen 3,000 billion forints (EUR 8.3bn) from private pension funds to spend on reducing the debt”, he insisted.

Burany said loans given to Hungary by Russia and China for major investment projects like the upgrade of the Paks nuclear power plant and setting up the Budapest campus of China’s Fudan University would also add to the public debt while hurting the country’s political independence.

Bence Tordai, another deputy group leader, told the same press conference that Prime Minister Viktor Orban had left more than half of the 5,800 billion forints Hungary is entitled to in European Union pandemic recovery funds on the table. Hungary would be required to draw down 70 percent of that money in the first two years of the period in which the funds are available, which would mean an injection of 2,000 billion forints into the economy next year, he said. Yet the draft budget only calculates with 450 billion in EU recovery money, he said.

Tordai also criticised the budget for spending too little on Budapest.

He said that if the opposition were to win next year’s general election, they would draft a new budget.

LMP: Without EU funds, Hungary would fall into recession next year

Hungary’s economy would fall into recession next year if it had no access to EU support, a senior opposition LMP official said on Wednesday, accusing the government of maintaining a “botched economic policy and high budget deficit”.

Assessing the finance ministry’s draft budget for 2022 submitted on Tuesday, deputy group leader Antal Csardi told an online press conference that ruling Fidesz continued “to favour its cronies” instead of helping restart small and medium-sized enterprises.

“The entire budget should be reconsidered,” he said.

Keeping the 2022 elections in mind, Fidesz has envisaged “a huge” budget deficit of 5.9 percent, he said, adding that the 79 percent debt rate was “unexpectedly high”, too.

The European Union, however, will contribute 3,050 billion forints (EUR 8.5bn), accounting for over 10 percent of the budget, Csardi said.

“While the government calculates with 5.2 percent growth, the EU funds alone generate a rate of 5.3 percent,” he said.

Next year’s budget will make the rich even richer and leave the needy in the lurch, Csardi said. He also criticised the draft for depriving the municipalities of 40 billion forints of central support.

LMP, in turn, proposes a progressive taxation system, which would leave more money in the pockets of low-income people and only increase the burden of those earning over 700,000 forints a month, Csardi said.

Instead of loans, LMP insists on granting central support for restarting SMEs, he said.

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