Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told a conference in Budapest on Thursday that the Hungarian economy has to provide jobs for Hungarians first of all, “and everyone else can only come after”.
In his address at the year-opening event of the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce (MKIK), PM Orbán said Hungary will need some 500,000 new workers in the coming 1-2 years. The priority is to “mobilise internal resources”, he said. Employees in fostered work programmes “are not part of that reserve” as they make a living in their current employment, rather than relying on subsidies, he said. At the same time, Hungary still has “domestic reserves”, which is why large industrial development projects are focusing on eastern Hungary, he said. Full employment is nearly achieved in the area of Debrecen, and Nyíregyháza will follow suit in a year, while northern Hungarian “Miskolc is more complicated”, he said. Next, labour policy efforts will concentrate on Békés County, in southeast Hungary, he said. “The European Union’s current political atmosphere, which prioritises regional cooperation and helps relations with Hungarian communities across the border,” also gives Hungary an opportunity to mobilise its workforce there, he said. “We can’t give an advantage to foreigners over Hungarians, we can only consider guest workers once we have exhausted these reserves,” he said. Hungary must also avoid the trap of “employing guest workers as a commodity” because Hungarians are unwilling to take on certain jobs, he said. “If the job is uncomfortable or difficult, it should pay more, but foreigners cannot have advantages over Hungarians,” he said. Guest workers would only be allowed temporary residence, he said. The government will keep taxes low, PM Orbán said, citing OTP Bank chairman-CEO Sándor Csányi as saying that instead of introducing new taxes, the focus should be on collecting the existing ones. Concerning the global minimum tax, Orbán said the extra burden from the tax would fall on foreign players rather than Hungarians. Hungary “has it on paper from the European Union” that the local business tax can be included in the calculation of the minimum tax, he said. This protects almost all Hungarian large companies, meaning that the introduction of the global minimum tax will not result in any additional burdens for them, the prime minister added.