Socialist co-leaders Agnes Kunhalmi (l) and Imre Komjathi - Photo: Facebook

Socialists: Government preparing ‘new austerity measures’

The government is preparing to "radically" cut welfare spending, the opposition Socialists said on Tuesday.

The government announced the cuts in a decree stating that expenditures in health care, housing and family support should be cut by at least 3 percent this year, followed by similar reductions in public education and state investments in 2024, party co-leader Agnes Kunhalmi told a press conference.

Kunhalmi insisted that the government had already passed an austerity package when it “deliberately boosted inflation”, burdening low-income citizens. The “second austerity package” will also hit large numbers of Hungarians hard, she said.

Meanwhile, the European Union’s council of finance ministers (ECOFIN) has requested that member states’ raises of budgetary spending on similar sectors do not exceed 4.4 percent, she said. Reports that the European Union should request cuts to health-care, education or family support is “just government propaganda”, she said.

Kunhalmi called on the government to “cut support for large companies [close to the government] and raise their taxes rather than further burdening the people” when looking to cut the budget deficit. It should also radically cut government support for battery plants, suspend “prestige investments and communication and propaganda spending”, and raise corporate tax to 15 percent “to ensure that corporations are taxed to the same degree as people are”, she said.

She also called for the extension of jobseekers’ allowance and tax exemption for minimum wages.

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