PM Orbán: Hungary's economy “has got off to a flying start”

Hungary’s economic output has now surpassed pre-pandemic levels, while most European Union countries are “still waiting” to catch up.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has told lawmakers that the economy “has got off to a flying start”, noting that GDP growth was 17.9 percent in the second quarter, the “highest figure ever recorded”. Hungary’s economic output has now surpassed pre-pandemic levels, while most European Union countries are “still waiting” to catch up.

According to MTI, PM Orbán added that full-year GDP growth would reach, or could even exceed, the government’s target of 5.5 percent. Citing official data, he said more than 4.7 million people had jobs in July, adding that the country had not had this many people in employment since the change of regime in 1989. The economy added nearly one million jobs over the last 11 years, the prime minister said, adding that Hungary was “just one step away from full employment”.

Referring to questions the government put to the public in a recent survey, PM Orbán told lawmakers that responses to the National Consultation survey “are binding on the government”. By Feb. 15, the government will refund a portion of personal income tax to parents raising children, he said. Fully 1.9 million parents will receive partial refunds of their 2021 personal income tax payments, a measure that totals 600 billion forints (EUR 1.7bn), PM Orbán said. Also, pensioners will receive a pension premium that is likely to be over 50,000 forints to make up for higher inflation, he said. Talks are under way to increase the minimum wage to 200,000 forints, the prime minister said, adding that the chance of a successful agreement was high. He said the measures built on earlier special support such as the loan moratorium for troubled borrowers and the phased reintroduction of the 13th month pension. Also, people below the age of 25 will be exempted from paying the personal income tax, while in early 2022 military and law enforcement personnel will get a special allowance for six months, PM Orbán said, adding that, in accordance with the results of the National Consultation, the government also intends to provide constitutional protection for family benefits, low taxes on labour and pensions.

In regards to the recent developments in Afghanistan, PM Orbán said Hungary had joined the international military operation there at the request of the United States and had withdrawn its troops in parallel. He said it appeared that the US had “misjudged the situation in Afghanistan”. The prime minister praised the efforts of the Hungarian troops, saying that he did not believe the threat related to Afghanistan had passed, as the crisis in the Central Asian country could trigger a new migration wave. PM Orbán said Hungary was sticking to its policy of strengthening its borders. He said the Balkan migration route was again filling up with migrants who, he insisted, were being aided by organisations linked to US financier George Soros. PM Orbán said the number of migrants crossing the border illegally and people smugglers registered by the Hungarian authorities had tripled compared with last year.

“Hungary gets regularly stabbed in the back by Brussels,” PM Orbán said, adding that the government would stick to its guns and protect the borders in the face of heavy political pressure. He insisted that the bloc’s unity was being “shredded” due to disputes over migration, and only by handing the relevant powers back to member states would that unity be preserved. Commenting the EC infringement procedure launched against Hungary because of the government’s child protection law, PM Orbán said: “We won’t allow space for any kind of sexual propaganda targeting our children.” PM Orbán told parliament that Hungarian laws that ban sexual propaganda in schools and kindergartens as well as in advertisements were under attack by Brussels, which has formally called on Hungary to amend its laws on public education, advertising and the media. “Their demands are absurd and run counter to the general belief in Hungary that the sex education of children should be exclusively determined by parents,” the prime minister said, adding that the Hungarian people would have the final say on the issue in a referendum. “In Hungary it is up to the people to pass decisions on migration and child protection. In turn, Brussels and countries that favour migration and LMBTQ have never done the same: there, the elite rather than the people pass decisions on these issues,” PM Orbán said.