According to Minister Gulyás, the Hungarian government appears to be within reach of its commitment set at the end of last year to bring inflation down to a single-digit figure by the end of this year. With October figures nearing a 10 percent inflation rate and forecasts indicating a dip to around 8 percent in November and 7 percent in December, the government sees this year's economic outlook positively despite the substantial sacrifices made for inflation control.
An OECD study highlighted Hungary's significant real wage growth in the second quarter of 2023, heralding substantial pay rises and guaranteed minimum wage increases starting next year, with the government continuing to implement measures to stimulate economic growth.
Gulyás emphasized the challenges posed by the EU's response to the Russia-Ukraine war. Despite the adversity of war, the government has prioritized curbing inflation, which he called the "greatest adversary."
On the subject of migration, Gulyás reported increasing aggression at the southern borders, with border guards frequently facing life-threatening situations. He acknowledged a shift toward common sense among some EU politicians and national leaders on this matter, contrasting it with the EU's legal and physical impediments to border defense.
Hungary has also expressed its stance against starting EU accession talks with Ukraine, citing unmet pre-war conditions, including promises related to national minorities, Copenhagen criteria, and corruption.
Additionally, the Hungarian government is preparing for the upcoming EU summit and has discussed a new proposal from Brussels on expansion. Hungary is in favor of completing negotiations with other countries before furthering talks with any new ones, including Ukraine. The minister reminded that the EU has provided significant financial and humanitarian support to Ukraine, despite the country not meeting EU accession criteria.
The press conference also covered domestic matters, such as the tightening of immigration law enforcement, with strict regulations for being able to remain in Hungary and immediate expulsion for those who violate laws. The policy emphasizes the importance of filling positions with Hungarian workers as long as there is domestic labor available.
Looking forward to digital innovation, Gulyás discussed the introduction of digital citizenship, aiming to simplify administration and reduce state bureaucracy. This initiative will enable citizens to handle administrative tasks and pay utility bills via mobile phones.
Regarding social support measures, Government Spokesperson Alexandra Szentkirályi highlighted the upcoming supplementary pension increase, which will be paid retroactively from January and is expected to benefit 2.5 million people. The government is allocating HUF 190 billion to this end, indicating a considerable annual increase when combined with the 13th month pension.
The government is also addressing cybersecurity, with the establishment of a 300-strong cyber investigator network to combat the rise in phishing and other cybercrimes, which have resulted in significant financial losses.
In terms of foreign policy, Gulyás criticized certain actions, such as the Soros family's support of the war in Ukraine and the lobbying for the country's EU accession talks, suggesting that Europe needs to develop a strategy for Ukraine independent of such influences.