PM Orbán in State of the Nation: With wages and employment up, ‘Hungary is coming out of the pandemic stronger than when we went in’

Hungary’s employment and export performance have risen to record highs, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in his State of the Nation address this afternoon, yet the greatest achievement is that “during the pandemic, families did not have to pull the handbrake.”

Noting that the country stands just 50 days before parliamentary elections, the PM used the occasion of his annual State of the Nation speech this afternoon to describe how the country is going forward, not backwards.

We have lived through two difficult years, he said, with the pandemic, immigration, the energy crisis, the Brussels tantrums, and the threat of war on our eastern borders.

Regarding the pandemic, which put countries’ politics and economies under pressure, “the undeservedly maligned Hungarian healthcare service performed excellently, and the police force worked quickly and efficiently,” he said. Whereas in Europe, governments have fallen one after another, “the new constitutional order of governance introduced in 2011 has tested well” in Hungary, he said. The prime minister added that “we managed to maintain public confidence at home, as the majority thinks that Hungary defended itself well,” even though the Left was hoping to bring down the government during such hard times.

Hungary must move forward, not backwards, he said.

“Hungary was the first in Europe to set up an operational group, to obtain ventilators and vaccines, the first to vaccinate more than half of the population, the first to restart the economy,” he said.

Speaking about the economy, Prime Minister Orbán explained that in 2010, the government decided to provide jobs instead of welfare to people who want to work: “There have never been so many people working in Hungary as there are now — 1 million more than under the Gyurcsány government.” Furthermore, Hungary's export performance rose to EUR 119 billion, breaking yet another record last year.

“We are 95th in the world in terms of population but 35th in export performance and 24th in per capita export performance,” he emphasized.

Not only did we continue to take Hungarian possession of key enterprises, “crisis or no crisis, we continued to invest Hungarian capital abroad,” the PM said, citing the expansion of MOL and OTP, as well as the Hungarian company that may build the Indonesian toll system and the presence of Hungarian electric utilities in the Czech Republic.

Nonetheless, he believes the greatest achievement of Hungary’s economy is that “during the epidemic, families did not have to pull the handbrake; the tax exemption for under-25s has started, families are now receiving their PIT refunds and the 13th month pensions have also arrived.”

“We are giving back what the Gyurcsány-Bajnai government took away,” Prime Minister Orbán said.

He also noted that the minimum wage would rise by 20 percent in 2022, and taxes on labor would fall by 4 percent. “We did not use the Brussels recipes to restart the economy, but the Matolcsy-Varga method,” and Hungary is now “coming out of the epidemic stronger than when it went in.”

The Left did not vote for the coronavirus law as the basis for protection against the pandemic; nor did they vote in favor of the credit moratorium, the family tax rebate, or the tax exemption for under-25s, Viktor Orbán said. Instead, he added, the previous Left governments took away the 13th month pension, a month's salary, and a year's worth of child support; they also doubled the price of electricity and tripled the price of natural gas.

Regarding foreign affairs, PM Orbán said “the situation is serious and fragile, and Hungary is surrounded by unstable regions.” A war must be avoided. “Not only humanity, but Hungarian interests tell us so.” In the event of war, refugees would arrive from Ukraine in the hundreds of thousands, even millions, he said, also mentioning that Hungary does have an appropriate action plan in place for this scenario.

Hungary is a member of NATO and the EU, he said, while it also maintains balanced relations with Russia. PM Orbán emphasized that “the East-West conflicts have so far brought nothing but trouble, suffering and casualties to Central Europe and Hungary,” and that is why his visit to Moscow was also a “mission of peace.” He believes in a peaceful settlement, not punitive policies, or any other kind of arrogance on the part of the superpowers.

“We will not accept any decision that is contrary to the interests of Hungary,” the prime minister said.

Viktor Orbán said that if they can continue to govern, stability will follow. The minimum wage today is higher than the average wage under the Gyurcsány and Bajnai governments. Furthermore, a “four-stop policy” was introduced: a freeze on utility prices, a fuel price freeze, an interest rate freeze, and a food price freeze. The cuts are working, and they have just been imitated by both France and Spain, he pointed out. Hungary has the lowest electricity prices in the EU and the third-lowest gas prices; fuel is currently the fifth cheapest in Hungary, he said, stressing that Brussels’ plan to fight climate change by raising energy prices has failed.

The prime minister also confirmed that family benefits will be maintained and extended. “We will not give up on the idea of making childbearing a financial positive instead of a financial burden,” he said.

As for migration, PM Orbán warned that hundreds of people try to enter Hungary every day — 122,000 last year and more than 12,000 just this January. More than HUF 600 billion was spent to stem the flow of migrants: “We could have given it to families or pumped it into the economy, but we had to spend that on defending the border.” He also said that the Hungarian line of defense at the border will only stand as long as this government is in office, and “if we allow the pro-migration bureaucrats in Brussels to help the protagonists of the Gyurcsány Show into government, they will open the borders.”

On EU-relations, he said that “we want to keep the EU together, which is why we have repeatedly made offers of tolerance. We don't expect them to adopt Hungarian migration policy, family policy or Hungarian foreign and national policy, but they can't expect us to adopt their policies either.”

“The EU must move forward, too, not backward,” he underlined.

Finally, he said that the upcoming election is about Gyurcsány and Bajnai wanting to return to power. However, “we have never been as strong, organized and determined as we are now,” the prime minister concluded.