Illustration – Photo: wikipedia

Four opposition parties boycott votes

Parliament passes 2022 budget, paedophile law

Hungary's parliament passed into law the government's 2022 budget in a final vote on Tuesday. The budget passed with 132 votes for and 26 against. The government drafted its budget bill envisaging a GDP growth of 5.2 percent, 3 percent inflation, a deficit target of 5.9 percent of GDP, as well as emergency reserves of 0.4 percent of GDP.

Targeted central revenues total 25,393.8 billion forints as against expenditure of 28,546.5 billion, with a projected shortfall of 3,152.6 billion forints. Reserves will add up to 233 billion forints. The public debt is targeted at 79.3 percent of GDP.

According to the government’s expectations, employment will grow by 1.1 percent in 2022, net revenues will increase by 7.7 percent, and household consumption will be up by 4.8 percent.

Economic reconstruction will focus on new jobs, assistance to families with children and the elderly, as well as development of crucial economic sectors. Climate protection targets and digitisation will also be given due weight, the justification of the budget said.

Similarly to the 2021 budget, next year’s will have an economic recovery fund, this time with over 7,300 billion forints, or 13 percent of next year’s GDP. Another fund, to support social security and efforts against the pandemic, will contain over 3,600 forints.

The budget will allow for funds of 160 billion forints to phase in the 13th month pension, and 68 billion forints for pension premiums. Doctors in hospitals and primary services will benefit from a continued payrise scheme totalling 458 billion forints. The central budget will use 381 billion forints for housing subsidies.

The economic recovery fund will support the Paks nuclear plant upgrade project company with a 270 billion forint capital increase, as well as contribute 31 billion forints to Budapest’s Liget Project.

As opposed to 108 billion forints this year, next year’s job-seeking benefits will total 105 billion forints, while public works schemes will be financed from 120 billion forints compared with 165 billion forints this year.

Personal income tax revenues are expected to total 2,866 billion forints, compared with 2,717 billion this year.

The health insurance fund will support GP surgeries with 244 billion forints, as opposed to 139 billion this year, and 82 billion forints to dental practices compared to 42 billion in 2021. The fund’s revenues include a total retail tax of 76 billion forints and the vehicle tax of over 90 billion forints.

A 2 percentage point reduction in employer taxes and the elimination of the vocation training contribution will bring down revenues from 105 billion forints to 68 billion. The employee tax, cut by 0.5 percented mid-next year to 15 percent, will bring in 2,454 billion forints.

Municipalities will benefit from 873 billion forints from the central budget, while they will be expected to contribute a total 129.8 billion forints in solidarity contributions. Normative financing for public education services will increase by 32 billion forints to 314 billion forints next year, while univerities operating under a new model will receive 177 billion forints as opposed to 59 billion forints this year.

In 2020, a total 4,169 billion forints will be paid out in pensions, 250 billion more than this year.

Varga: Next year’s budget ensures full resources to relaunch the economy

In 2022, all the resources necessary will be available to relaunch the economy, create jobs and boost investments, Mihaly Varga, the finance minister said after lawmakers approved next year’s budget on Tuesday.

He noted the government is providing additional support for families while phasing in the 13-month pension. Also, it is pressing ahead with further tax cuts by introducing tax exemptions for employees below the age of 25 while reducing taxes on labour, Varga said in a video message on social media.

The minister stressed the importance of pursuing a policy that steadily reduces taxes rather than raising them.

“The main figures in the budget will provide both the resources needed to restart the economy while also reducing the deficit and public debt,” he said, noting a deficit target of 5.9 percent of GDP and a public debt level of 79.3 percent.

Varga accused the opposition Jobbik party of proposing to spend three times the budget’s reserves, while the LMP party would introduce new taxes. Parbeszed, he added, wanted to introduce basic income costing 1,400 billion. The minister said the opposition’s 1,148 “contradictory proposals” would have come to 8,800 billion forints, meaning new taxes, higher debt levels and hikes to existing taxes.

Paedophile offender register to be established

A new law will create a register of paedophile offenders while preventing paedophiles from working in contexts involving children. The law passed on Tuesday with 157 votes in favour and 1 against. An electronic searchable database will contain names in the register for parents and other relatives to query once a legitimate request has been made.

The database which also contains a list of one-time felons may only be used in the service of protecting children.

Meanwhile, the penal code has been changed to ensure that perpetrators of certain types of child pornography receive a prison sentence of 20 years without the possibility of parole. One such example is violence used against a person below the age of 12. Others include child sex abuse, harassment or violence committed by officials or recidivists.

In cases of serious paedophile crimes, the statute of limitation no longer applies.

In milder cases, however, the statute of limitations applies in cases in which the victim is 21 or above instead of the current age of 18.

The employment ban for paedophiles in health or education is being expanded to include leisure-related jobs involving visits by minors, such as beaches, amusement parks, zoos and sports associations.

Also paedophiles will be banned from government or political leadership posts.

Regarding sex education in schools, materials must not contain anything aimed at changing gender or promoting homosexuality.

Besides teachers of the school, only people or organisations included in an official, continually updated register can hold sex education classes.

Also, the right of a child to identify according to his or her sex at birth is guarded by the law under the aegis of the child protection system.

It is forbidden to carry content targeting youth below the age of 18 which has pornographic content, portraying themselves in a sexual manner, or doing anything to promote homosexuality or a gender identity at variance with gender at birth. The same applies to advertisements.

Television stations will be obliged carry an 18 certificate for films and programming with content which deviates from the law’s restrictions, while Hungary’s media authority will be required to seek remedial action by the member state under whose jurisdiction any infringements take place.

Four opposition parties boycott parliamentary votes

The opposition Democratic Coalition (DK), Socialist, Parbeszed and LMP parties boycotted the final votes on several government bills on Tuesday. The opposition spokespeople referred to laws passed on paedophilia “stigmatising the gay community”, the extension of the “special legal order” related to the epidemic, and the transfer of state property to private foundations, as well as the 2022 budget.

At a joint press conference held in front of Parliament, DK lawmaker Gergely Arato spoke of “a day of shame” in the life of Hungary’s legislature. “Today, a vote is being held on a series of proposals that do not comply with the rules of parliamentary democracy, fundamental human rights or the rule of law, while the way they were submitted and their content is outrageous,” he said.

Arato said the budget law “does not incorporate a single proposal submitted by the opposition parties”, which he branded as “a mockery of parliamentarism and democracy”.

Socialist lawmaker Zita Gurmai said ruling Fidesz had passed a law classifying “our decent, gay compatriots as paedophiles”. The Socialists, she added, regarded the protection of children as “hugely important”, noting the bills her party had submitted last year on fighting paedophilia, child pornography and the exploitation of minors.

“However, the Socialists reject Fidesz’s centralised hate-mongering, stigmatisation and discrimination,” Gurmai said.

Antal Csardi, deputy group leader of LMP, said Tuesday had been “a day of lies” as parliament prepared to adopt laws built on “hatred”.

“The government wants to make the public believe that there will be a referendum on whether to bring [China’s] Fudan University to Budapest,” Csardi said, adding that ruling Fidesz had the “single goal of serving China’s geopolitical and economic interests”.

Bence Tordai, deputy group leader of Parbeszed, criticised Prime Minister Viktor Orban for “stigmatising hundreds of thousands of Hungarians” and “handing state assets over to Fidesz’s buddies”. “The shameful paedophile law is about Fidesz diverting attention from its own paedophile scandals and protecting paedofile priests,” he said.

“The prime minister is building up a parallel world in which he will be free to rule even if voters oust Fidesz in [the 2022 general election],” Tordai said.

Leave a Reply