Finance Minister: Hungary has returned to a path of growth

Hungary has returned to a path of growth in spite of the Russia-Ukraine war.

Finance Minister Mihály Varga told the 30th congress of Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party on Saturday that Hungary has returned to a path of growth in spite of the Russia-Ukraine war, the ongoing “political attacks from Brussels and the pressure from Washington”.

Hungary was the fastest-growing European Union member state in 2019, and though its growth was broken by the pandemic and the subsequent period, “thanks to the healthy structure of the economy and falling global energy prices, we’re back on a path of growth”, Varga said, adding that “our economic outlook can propel us to the top again.” Citing the European Commission’s Autumn Economic Forecast released this week, Varga said Hungary was projected to be among the top third of EU countries in terms of growth in 2024 and was set to be the fastest-growing member state in 2025. He said the then-incoming government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán had inherited a “bankrupt” country in 2010, and because the roadmap offered by Brussels would have only led to more austerity and a loss of competitiveness, the government carved its own path. That new path led to rising employment, Varga said, noting that the number of employed had risen to 4.1 million from 3.7 million, while the jobless rate had been cut from 12% to 4%. “We’re practically at full employment,” he said. The government, he said, had also reworked the structure of the economy and taken a step towards a demographic turnaround by overhauling the tax system and cutting taxes. “We built the world’s strongest family benefit system,” the minister said. Regarding the public debt, Varga noted that it had fallen from 80% to 65% by the start of the pandemic, and was now on a downward trend again. The government also halved the ratio of foreign currency in the country’s debt and increased the share of domestic financing of the national debt to 20%, he said. Hungary has had the highest investment rate in the EU for several years and ranks ninth globally in economic complexity, Varga said.