Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told a conference on Thursday that increasing Hungary’s energy capacity will be a key policy in the coming two years, and will be coordinated by Energy Minister Csaba Lantos.
The prime minister said Hungary’s industry policy focuses on investments, developments and industry, which are energy-intensive sectors. “We will build gas plants to serve the large industrial centres,” he said. The use of gas is not prohibited by the EU “in the current situation,” he said. Energy can be imported or produced, and gas is the only source from which Hungary can produce its own energy, PM Orbán said. Concerning alternative energy sources, he said Hungary was using solar energy and could potentially use wind energy. The country could also eventually produce enough geothermal energy to be useful to the national economy, he said. PM Orbán said that in the coming period, Hungary will have to take advantage of its ability to build gas plants at a relatively quick pace. Hungary has to build two or three plants either using state resources or private capital in order to be able to supply its industrial projects with energy, he added. If the EU provides funding for this, Hungary will use it, otherwise, it will be financed from other resources, PM Orbán said, adding that such a project could attract investors from all over the world.
PM Orbán identified the rising interest in Hungary’s public debt as another problem. Whereas the Hungarian economy was able to secure funding easily thanks to a falling interest on the public debt in 2010, inflation in Europe has led to a rise in interest rates everywhere, he said. This means a credit that was cheaper in the past must now be renewed with higher-interest credit, he added. He said the share of the expiring debt was low in 2023 and 2024, adding that the high-interest rates did not pose a direct threat to the economy for the time being. PM Orbán said the absence of economic policy dilemmas in recent years demonstrated the stability of Hungarian economic policy. But now, he added, “there is a disagreement between the central bank and the government on economic policy.” “But this isn’t abnormal, only unexpected seeing how it didn’t happen over the last 7-8 years,” the prime minister said. He said the central bank wanted to curb inflation by cutting the money supply. But, PM Orbán argued, if inflation was caused by rising energy prices and sanctions policies, then the money supply may not have to be reduced at the current rate.