PM Orbán opens spring session of Parliament: 'The Hungarian economic model is working'

PM Orbán said the government’s deficit target of 2.4 percent of GDP this year was “clearly” achievable. Hungary’s economy grew by 2 percent last year

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán opened the spring session of Parliament detailing the successess of the Hungarian economic model.

According to MTI, the prime minister told lawmakers that Hungary’s indices show the country’s economic model is more than viable.

Economic growth, a shrinking public debt and big foreign trade surplus as well as record low unemployment and the healthy state of the tourism sector are among the past year’s achievements, he said.

Last year Hungary reduced its debt-to-GDP ratio to 74 percent and the budget surplus in January was at a 17-year high, he said.

"Hungarians have worked hard for their achievements," the prime minister said. “Their work is gradually paying off, irrespective of party affiliation.”

PM Orbán said the government’s deficit target of 2.4 percent of GDP this year was “clearly” achievable. Hungary’s economy grew by 2 percent last year, he noted, adding that the government targets a growth rate of 4.1 percent for this year and 4.3 percent for 2018. He also said 2016 had been a record year for foreign trade, noting that Hungary had generated a trade surplus of around 10 billion euros.

The prime minister also noted in his opening address to parliament that the unemployment rate was at a record low of 4.4 percent in the fourth quarter last year, arguing that “full employment is just an arm’s reach away”.

Putting Hungary’s economic indicators into historical perspective, Orbán argued that Hungary was on the verge of an economic breakthrough. The prime minister said that over the past 120 years, the country’s economic performance had reflected a cyclical nature. Between 1900 and 2010, averaged out, the country’s annual GDP per capita growth rate was never above 1.5 percent.

Meanwhile, the government is to launch a national consultation on the five dangers facing Hungary, PM Orbán said, citing efforts by Brussels to introduce common energy pricing which could compromise government cuts to utility bills, EU policies on migration which counter Hungarian ones, and “attacks on Hungarian efforts” to cut taxes and create jobs.

Concerning migration, PM Orbán said it still had strong support in Brussels. But “step by step the countries supporting migration and those in Brussels” are being “contained”, the prime minister said. Slowly but surely, Germany and Italy are also changing their stance on migration, he said. Orbán said Europe should now turn its attention to migrant detention. He noted that the government plans to introduce a system under which migrants who have submitted an application for asylum will be banned from moving around freely on Hungarian soil until their case has been ruled on.

PM Orbán said the third threat facing Hungary was attempts by foreign-funded networks to gain influence in the country. He said these organizations had “nothing to do” with civic groups, arguing that they were rather “Hungarian depots of international organizations”. He said the government was aiming for transparency and would not allow “global capital” to make decisions in place of the Hungarian people.

The prime minister said Brussels was also preparing to take over a new slate of economic powers from member states, which he said would also impact Hungary’s tax regulations. “Hungary’s successful tax system must be protected,” he insisted, adding that Hungary’s various job creation schemes, such as the fostered work scheme, the job-protection action plan and investments aimed at creating jobs were also under attack from the EU.