Discussing the current pandemic situation, the prime minister emphasized that the opposition “has gone too far” by criticizing the government’s measures because they aim to persuade people not to abide by the defensive measures, which is against the interests of the whole country. The coronavirus operational corps has been in place for almost two years, and they are doing their utmost to save lives, he stressed, adding that the fight against the virus should not be a political battle but a cooperative effort instead.
Commenting on vaccine donations, he said that it is the task of the foreign minister to, in consultation with the operational corps, use the vaccines that are nearing their expiration date wisely and make them available for those in need, either in the region or other developing countries.
In response to leftist attacks on vaccines, he said that the vaccines Hungary needs must be obtained from different sources, and we can never place ourselves “at the mercy of one or two pharmaceutical companies.” The responsible political approach is to stay in contact with countries capable of producing high-quality vaccines that are also accepted by the WHO.
Discussing inflation and the recently introduced price caps, PM Orbán explained that normally the government should not interfere in prices, but there are exceptional situations when it cannot sit back and wait for market operators to adjust prices after they have not been able to control them. “Until things get back to normal, someone has to protect consumers,” he pointed out.
He added that the main reason behind inflation is the rise of energy prices and that Brussels’ policy on energy prices has failed. “It is a complete misunderstanding” to think that higher energy prices will serve climate protection, he said, underlining the need to protect families from rising energy costs.
Citing recent data, he said that the price of gas and electricity in Hungary is among the cheapest in Europe, adding that Spain and France are now introducing cuts as well. He reiterated that in climate policy, it must be made clear that “big polluters should bear the burden and Brussels should not be allowed to pass it on to Hungarian families.”
Turning to family policy, the prime minister said that in addition to a stable political and a well-functioning economic system built in the past 12 years, the family support system is also working well. It is made up of interlinked elements aiming to help young people have children and a home, as well as not pay taxes under the age of 25.
“In the next four years, if people want it, we will have to get more people into this family support system,” the PM said, adding that “everywhere in Europe, it is said that Hungarians spend proportionately the highest amount of their budget on family support.” The reason behind this is that we do not want to solve the issue of population decline with more migration.
The prime minister said that if they win in April, “not only will the current policies of family support continue, but they will be supplemented by new ones,” and the level of family support may also increase if the economy performs better. “I want to see tangible financial benefits for people choosing to have larger families,” he said.
Prime Minister Orbán also noted that, since it was financially feasible, the 13th month pension was restored, families will get back their PIT paid last year, and those under 25 will be exempt from the personal income tax. He said that “2021 was a very difficult year in terms of health, but a very successful year for the economy, with growth of over 6 percent,” and families and retired people, who were hit the hardest by the pandemic, should benefit from that.
As for the meeting with President Putin, he said he would like to increase the amount of gas in the current Russian-Hungarian agreement, as well as discuss other topics regarding bilateral cooperation, such as the food industry and tourism. Regarding the security situation in Europe, he stressed that Hungary’s goal is de-escalation, and as a NATO and EU member, his negotiations are always preceded by consultations with Western allies.