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Mar 10, 2020 - Zoltán Kovács

PM Orbán: Economy protection action plan necessary to protect economic sectors from coronavirus fallout

Coronavirus, Hungary’s economic performance as well as key achievements over the last ten years and coming changes in economic policy. Here’s a summary of PM Orbán’s speech today on economic policy.

During his annual address this morning at the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s economic policy forum, Prime Minister Orbán said that the 2020 and 2021 budgets need to be revised to include “several billions of euros” of support for Hungary’s economic sectors – such as tourism – that will likely see a slowdown due to the coronavirus.

“We have to prepare for a global epidemic,” the prime minister said, adding that the lack of effective vaccination against the coronavirus will lead to “psychological uncertainty” and the rise of a “defensive attitude” that will affect economic performance. “However,” PM Orbán continued, “we need to figure out a way that an economic slowdown doesn’t hit the lows of 2008 and 2009.” We need to retain our economic growth at 2 percent above the EU average, he said.

In order to do that, according to the prime minister, an economy protection action plan should be put in place, one that protects economic sectors from the negative effects of the coronavirus.

Reviewing some of the Hungarian economy’s recent achievements, the prime minister reiterated his view that the last ten years have been the most successful years for Hungary in the last century. “Success must not only be measured by way of numerical indicators. Success is only worth something if it’s supported by sustainable structures and balanced finances,” he said.

Since 2012, Hungary has managed to keep the government deficit under 3 percent, push public debt below 66 percent and dramatically decrease the proportion of Hungary’s debt held in foreign currencies. Meanwhile, we sent the IMF packing, regained the trust of economic actors and convinced foreign investors to bring their money to Hungary, PM Orbán listed.

Looking ahead, the prime minister said that we will need to bring about “brutal change,” because “if we do [only] as much in the next ten years as we did in the previous decade, then we will go bankrupt.” And if this is not enough, he added, there are the implications of Brexit as well to consider. The European Union’s post-Brexit industrial policy, for example, carries elements that are detrimental to Hungary.