In an international press conference held on Wednesday, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán highlighted Hungary’s halting migration and the protection of price caps on household utility bills among the country’s achievements in 2022. Staying out of the war in Ukraine will continue to be of paramount importance for the country, PM Orbán said, adding that another top priority was to ensure economic growth as opposed to recession elsewhere in Europe.
The prime minister said Hungary is the only European country that is simultaneously under migration pressure from two directions, noting the pressure on the southern border and the influx of refugees from Ukraine. PM Orbán called it a “fantastic achievement” that the Hungarian authorities had thwarted more than a quarter of a million illegal entry attempts. He said it was also a success that Hungary had been capable of financing the increased energy prices, noting that the country this year has had to pay 17 billion euros for energy compared with 7 billion last year. Hungary was able to cover these costs while upholding the essence of the price caps on utility bills, PM Orbán said, adding that this would also be the case in 2023. Hungary this year succeeded in preserving its work-based society, PM Orbán said, adding that employment in the country had never been as high as in 2022. Employment is at a 30-year high, with 74.6% of Hungarians working, he said.
Though 2022 was an election year, Hungary still managed to reduce its budget deficit, “which is very rare in European politics, but not unprecedented in Hungary”, he said, noting that the same had happened in 2018. The government has also restored the 13th-month pension, families were refunded a significant portion of their taxes and a tax exemption was introduced for Hungarians under the age of 25, he noted.
PM Orbán said it was also an “exceptional achievement” that Hungary had reached an agreement with the European Union, overcoming the “hungarophobia” which he said had taken hold in the liberal world. The prime minister expressed hope that the agreements reached with the EU would be signed in the next couple of days.
As regards Hungary’s goals for 2023, PM Orbán said: “We will be on the defensive in 2023 but won’t give up on our great objectives.” Staying out of the war in Ukraine will continue to be of paramount importance for the country, PM Orbán said, adding that another top priority was to ensure economic growth as opposed to recession elsewhere in Europe. The government also wants to ensure that inflation is brought down to the single digits by the end of 2023, he said. Speaking ahead of a government session later on Wednesday, PM Orbán said the government was expected to decide on extending young people’s personal income tax exemption from 25 years of age to 30 in the case of mothers. “Sovereignty, freedom, full employment and assistance to families — those are the great goals we won’t give up even under predictably difficult conditions,” PM Orbán said