Finance Minister: 2024 budget submitted to Parliament

The finance minister said Hungary required a budget that guaranteed the country’s security, protected families, pensions, jobs, and cheaper household energy bills.

Finance Minister Mihály Varga said the 2024 budget bill was submitted to parliament on Tuesday. He added that in times of war, Hungary required a budget that guaranteed the country’s security, protected families, pensions, jobs, and cheaper household energy bills.

Minister Varga said the budget prioritized stability and predictability, and, adhering to the custom introduced nine years ago, MPs will hold a vote on the budget during the summer and may pass it as early as July 7. The bill takes into account today’s known dangers such as the protracted war in Ukraine, he said. Protecting and maintaining the government’s results achieved so far are the budget’s main aims, the minister said, noting that the Fiscal Council has endorsed it and the target of reducing the deficit and public debt, while it had also identified several which the government has taken into consideration. Varga said the bill targets a deficit of 2.9% and a public debt of 66.7% of GDP, with inflation at around 6%. The economy is set to grow by around 4%, higher than the EU average. The employment level is expected to stay level at 4.7 million, while the jobless rate is likely to be 4%, he said. More than 1,360 billion forints (EUR 3.7bn) will be available for the fund which helps households, state and local government bodies and companies pay their energy bills, ensuring the lowest utility costs in Europe, he said. Varga said the European Commission had no powers to cancel the scheme to lower energy bills, and the scheme would remain in place.

Defense spending will amount to almost 1,310 billion forints, exceeding 2% of GDP, the minister said. Family support will be preserved in the 2024 budget, Varga said, with 3,307 billion forints channelled to support families. Also, the value of pensions will be ensured next year, with 6,542 billion forints set aside for pensions, 392 billion forints more than this year. If economic growth exceeds 3.5%, an additional 20.5 billion will be released for the pension premium, while 449 billion will be available for the payment of 13th monthly pensions. Fully 3,434 billion forints are allocated for education and 3,225 billion for health care, both several hundred forints more than this year, with wage rises for teachers and nurses in the pipeline. The wage increase for teachers may reach 20% if a deal is struck to resolve open issues with EU bodies so that Hungary can access its EU funding, he said. In 2024, the tax on excessive profits will be phased out. Central reserves will amount to 220 billion forints, he added. Speaker of Parliament László Kövér said the general budget debate will fall between June 13 and 15, and a detailed proposal will be submitted on July 2, with a final vote scheduled for July 7 concluding the extraordinary summer session.