PM Orbán: I am optimistic about Hungary’s economic policy for the next two years

Prime Minister Orbán addressed members of the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the chamber’s year-opening event earlier today. In his speech, he detailed the government’s forward-looking plans to boost Hungary’s economic output and reduce debt while keeping the current support systems intact.

In a recent address at the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry's “opening of the economic” year event, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán offered an optimistic outlook for Hungary's economic policy over the next two years. He highlighted the significance of a strong intellectual and societal foundation to support the government's economic strategies. "Economic policy is made by economic ministers, which is advantageous. There must be an intellectual base, and a societal influence partner for the government," PM Orbán stated, emphasizing the critical role of collaboration with economic institutions, such as the Chamber of Commerce, in fostering a productive economic environment.

PM Orbán detailed four guiding principles for the government's economic oversight. These include the strategic reduction of national debt, the necessity to generate more income than expenditures, the value of labor over idleness, and the importance of benefiting from other countries’ economies rather than being exploited by them.

"There are four items we must keep an eye on. The first is that it's always better if others owe us, although unfortunately, this is not yet the case due to a high inherited debt ratio. The second is that we must always earn more than we spend. The third is that it's better to work than to drift aimlessly. And the fourth is that it's always better if we earn from others rather than others earning from us," PM Orbán explained, underlining these principles as fundamental for economic stability and growth.

Reflecting on recent challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical tensions, PM Orbán noted the resilience of Hungary's economy. "Until 2020, things were quite clear, we were on a successful, upward trajectory, then came COVID and the war. (…) However, the crisis between 2020 and 2024 did not crush the Hungarian economy. If we now look at the pause in our economy, the real economy survived this period without major issues, which, when compared to previous crises, is more than surprising," he remarked. He attributed this resilience to policies that enabled individuals and businesses to thrive and a strategic pivot in investment focus from a predominantly Western orientation to a more global perspective.

Addressing the shifting global economic and political landscape, PM Orbán observed the accelerated changes reshaping the world. "A reshaping of the world's economic and political map is underway, and it's evident that this has accelerated. The geopolitical and economic implications of this change are significant because they pose a serious dilemma. (…) The way the West and the rest of the world view various issues, such as the Russian-Ukrainian war, fundamentally differs," the prime minister noted, emphasizing Hungary's unique position to facilitate cooperation and maintain economic opportunities amidst geopolitical tensions.

On the topic of war and its implications for Europe, PM Orbán highlighted the inevitability of European rearmament and the uncertainty surrounding America's commitment to European security. "The first serious consequence, perhaps already drawn, is that Europe cannot avoid having to rearm. (…) We do not know how long America will stay, and if we cannot ensure our security on our own, we will be in trouble," he said.

Looking forward, the prime minister expressed concern over the duration of the conflict and its potential impact on Hungary and Europe. He advocated for a swift resolution, suggesting that "the most important question is how long the war will last and what follows. (…) The only solution is peace negotiations sooner or later; the question is sooner or later? The decisive factor is whose side time is on," arguing for the importance of ending the conflict to safeguard Hungary's interests.

PM Orbán also called for rational leadership in Europe, critiquing the ideological bias in economic governance. "Elections will take place not only in the United States but also in Europe. The elections will be of great importance from the perspective of sensibility. On one side are the federalists, and on the other, the sovereigntists, but economically, common sense counts," he said, promoting a pragmatic approach to economic policy that prioritizes sensibility over political ideology.

On the domestic economic front, PM Orbán underscored the importance of supporting "national champions" that can generate profits abroad and bring them back to Hungary. "Today in Hungary, foreigners here generate a lot of profit, €4-6 billion are taken out of the country. We can remain open and live together with €4-6 billion of outgoing profit if we also collect as much and bring it home," he said.

Prime Minister Orbán concluded with a forward-looking statement on Hungary's fiscal policy, aiming to reduce the budget deficit while preserving social support programs. "We do not want economic development to stop; we do not want to change the utility cost reduction program and family support. The intention is to reduce the deficit to 4.5, then to 3.7, and finally to 2.9 percent by 2024," he stated, emphasizing the goal of returning to pre-crisis fiscal rules.