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Apr 01, 2020

Introductory address by Viktor Orbán at a videoconference for participants in economic policy

30 March 2020, Budapest

Good morning to you all. I respectfully welcome everyone.

I hope that under the circumstances everyone is well. In a situation like the one we are in, we always look for answers to two questions: what we should do, and what we shouldn’t do. So I respectfully ask you not only to say what you propose should happen, but also what you definitely want to avoid happening. At the beginning of this discussion I can tell you that we have three simultaneous tasks. All thoughts, ideas and pieces of advice related to each of our tasks are helpful, and we are grateful for them. One of the tasks we are working on is adjusting the current budget to the situation that has developed, and the situation that we are forecast to be in by the end of the year. This is the 2020 budget.

If in Parliament today we receive the authorisation that the laws of mathematics tell us we have every chance of receiving, I will not decide to create a new budget to replace the current 2020 budget, or together with the Government have a new budget drafted. My proposal is not for us to replace one with another – because we don’t know what will happen, and in two months’ time we might have to draft yet another new budget. The Act will allow us to depart from the adopted budget, instead of drafting a new budget to replace the old one.And here I’m proposing a radical departure from the 2020 budget which has already been adopted. All funds which do not need to be spent within the structure of the adopted budget – and which we can free up for crisis management or restarting the economy – should be redirected, and a fund should be created to manage the crisis and relaunch the economy. The only funds that should be left in the budgets of ministries are those which must absolutely remain there. So I’m not proposing a completely new budget, but a departure from the 2020 budget as a crisis management method. If we do this well, for the first time in a long while we’ll probably have a better understanding of the actual needs behind each item of expenditure in the budget. So I’m not suggesting that we cut specific columns or items in the budget by this percentage or that; instead, we should go back to first principles and look at what expenditures are absolutely needed in 2020, and what ones aren’t. And for those that aren’t, we should depart from the budget and use some of the funding released for the management of the crisis, and the rest to relaunch the economy.

I believe that we’ll also have to do this for 2021. For 2021 – the budget for which is already being planned – we should prepare a core budget, stripped of all superfluities, which contains enough funding for crisis management and relaunching the economy to offer us the widest possible room for manoeuvre. This is task number two. So there is the reallocation of funding within the 2020 budget and the creation of the budget for 2021.

And, together with the Central Bank, we have a third task. I don’t think they’re here now – or are they? Perhaps Barnabás is here, yes. So together with the Central Bank, using monetary and fiscal measures, we must put together what I have to say is the largest economic stimulus package in our history. We won’t be calling this a package, but an action plan; at any rate, I want to put together the largest economic stimulus package in our history. We will be spending money on crisis management, but I suggest we think about how we can use all the country’s monetary and fiscal resources to relaunch the economy by giving the Hungarian economy its largest ever boost – while, of course, aiming for growth and the protection and creation of jobs.

So in summary, László, we have three tasks: reallocating items within the 2020 budget; planning the 2021 budget in line with the logic of the redesigned 2020 budget; and the assembly of an extensive action plan to relaunch the economy. This is how I see our tasks, and this is the framework. What should we do, what shouldn’t we do, and what content should we put in this framework? This is where we expect your involvement and contributions.

I’d like to repeat that I’m grateful for the opportunity to take part in a conference such as this.