Esteemed Speaker, Esteemed Fellow Members of Parliament, Esteemed House,
According to our constitutional customs, I’m here to provide information for the National Assembly about the most important proceedings of the period that has passed since our last sitting. First of all, about the pandemic situation. Thanks to a successful vaccination programme, this year the Hungarian people again had a free and safe summer. Not only by European, but equally by global standards we implemented one of the fastest vaccination programmes. Thanks to this, we were able to rid ourselves of the disease control restrictions sooner, and to help the economy get back on its feet faster. Thanks to the vaccines, our streets and public spaces filled with life again. The vaccine enabled us to open shops, to visit our family members, or to go on holiday. It was due to the vaccine that our children were able to return to school, we can go to work again, and we can lead our usual, normal lives.
The epidemic will have a fourth wave. In addition to the data of a number of European countries, our data, too, allows us to come to this conclusion. With three waves of the epidemic behind us, we know what it is that works against the virus, and what it is that doesn’t. Restrictions, the wearing of face masks are not enough; they’re not enough to even curb this virus, let alone conquer it. This is the kind of virus that only the vaccine can conquer. We defeated the third wave with vaccination; we will be able to keep the fourth wave in check with vaccination. If enough of us are inoculated, we won’t have to return to lockdowns, to the wearing of face masks; we’ll be able to continue to lead our normal lives, the lives that we’re used to. We are only able to protect our lives and freedom with vaccination. Therefore, I will propose a vaccination-based defence scheme in the future as well. Even two vaccines provide immunity, but experts strongly recommend a third dose. According to our knowledge at present, about the third dose we can say that it’s better to have it than to not have it. Those who have the third dose will under any circumstances be better-protected than those who don’t. In Europe, Hungary was the first to make vaccination possible with a third dose. By now, 525,000 compatriots have been inoculated with the third dose of the vaccine. I’d like to inform the Esteemed House that at present 7,986,132 doses of vaccine are available in Hungary, and up to the end of the year another 8,900,000 vaccines will be delivered. Meaning that up to the end of December, we will be able to administer as many as 17 million doses of the vaccine -- should the need arise. That means that we have enough vaccines, we’re able to vaccinate everyone, whether it’s the first, second or third dose. The vast majority of Hungarians have already been vaccinated, and are therefore safe. It’s the others who should now follow suit. Also from here, I’m asking them all to have themselves vaccinated. Those who are not vaccinated are taking a risk: the risk of severe illness, the risk of hospitalisation, even the risk of death. This disease can be deadly, and we know beyond doubt that the vaccine works. Anyway, during the summer we prepared for the fourth wave. We have enough vaccines, medicines and sufficient hospital capacity. The government will propose to the Esteemed House the extension of the state of danger and the special legal order until the end of the year. The special legal order has proved its worth, it does help the fight against the epidemic. We continue to need it. We must maintain the country’s acting capacity throughout the epidemic.
The vaccine works, so does Hungary. This is also underlined by the latest economic facts. The Hungarian economy has shot out of the blocks; according to the second quarterly data, gross domestic product increased by 17.9 per cent, which is the highest growth rate ever recorded. The performance of the Hungarian economy – and this is what’s truly important – already exceeds the pre-pandemic level, while in the majority of EU Member States this has yet to happen. It clearly testifies to the strength of our economic recovery that the exports of services calculated in euros increased by 21 per cent in the second quarter of the year. Investments increased by 10.8 per cent, foreign trade by 16 per cent, industry by 10.2 per cent compared with the previous year’s corresponding period. As far as I can see at present, the government will be able to push the rate of economic growth to above 5.5 per cent this year. The government’s economy-boosting measures are working, and so unless a major setback occurs during the rest of the year, we could even rise above a growth level of 5.5 per cent. At the time of the outbreak of the epidemic, the government pledged to create at least as many jobs as were destroyed by the epidemic. I’m happy to inform you, Esteemed Fellow Parliamentarians, that we have honoured our pledge. In July, the number of people with jobs was above 4,700,000. Never before since the fall of communism had this many people had jobs in Hungary. In eleven years, almost a million new jobs have come into being. The unemployment rate has fallen to below 4 per cent again, and we’re only a stone’s throw away from full employment. In fact, as far as I can see, there is now a shortage of workforce in the economy. At the time of the outbreak of the epidemic, the government immediately launched an investment promotion programme worth 1,700 billion forints, and with this we saved 270,000 jobs.
Esteemed Fellow Members of Parliament,
In June, the Government of Hungary launched a national consultation. This was also the case with the Constitution, migration, the protection of families and the coronavirus. This time, we started a consultation because the epidemic will have lasting consequences not only in Hungary, but in the entire world. We’re living in an era of threats, further epidemics and waves of migration threaten our daily lives, and to this we Hungarians, too, must adapt. The consultation was about the how. We received 1,423,000 answers. I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who took part in the national consultation. The results are clear. More than 90 per cent of respondents agreed that the minimum wage should be raised to 200,000 forints; they supported the tax refund for families raising children; they agreed with the constitutional protection of family grants and low taxes on work, and they also supported the extension of the credit repayment moratorium. The consultation compels the government to make decisions. We have already adopted the first decision. We have extended the credit repayment moratorium for the needy. Pensioners, families raising children, the unemployed, people working in public works schemes, and people whose family income decreased during the epidemic qualify as needy. At the same time, those businesses will be eligible for the extension of the credit moratorium whose revenues fell by 25 per cent during the epidemic.
The successful restarting of the economy enables the Parliament and the government to realise the goals that they set before the fourth wave. By 15 February 2022, we will – because we’re able to – refund the personal income tax paid by parents raising children in 2021. The upper limit of the refund will be the annual tax content of the 2021 average wage. Small-scale entrepreneurs raising children, too, will be eligible for a tax refund. Parents paying taxes under the simplified taxation regime will be refunded the amount paid by them as personal income tax. At the same time, entrepreneurs paying the preferential flat-rate tax will be given back a quarter of the flat-rate tax paid if they raise children. In total, in February 2022 the tax authority will refund 600 billion forints to one million nine hundred thousand parents. This year pensioners will receive another supplement due to the rate of inflation. Pensioners, too, will be entitled to a share of the results of economic growth. This is only fair. According to the present calculations of experts, the expected amount of the pension premium will exceed 50,000 forints. In February 2022, we will continue the re-introduction of the 13th monthly pension. Next February, we will be able to pay every Hungarian pensioner at least a two-weekly extra pension. The last, not yet rectified mistake of the Gyurcsány–Bajnai Governments was that they took away the thirteenth monthly pension. The government is committed, and we will give back the thirteenth monthly pension as swiftly as possible. At the beginning of 2022, we will pay the sworn-in professional staff of the armed forces and law enforcement agencies a six-monthly bonus. From 1 January 2022, we will introduce exemption from the payment of the personal income tax for young people with a job under the age of 25 years. I’d like to inform the Esteemed House that talks with employers and workers are ongoing. The goal of the talks is to raise the amount of the minimum wage to 200,000 forints. According to the present status of the talks, I can tell you that there is a good chance that an agreement will be reached. I would also like to inform the Esteemed House that, in harmony with the national consultation, the government intends to extend constitutional protection to family grants, lower taxes on work and also pensions.
Esteemed House, Esteemed Speaker,
At the end of the summer, the mission of the United States and NATO in Afghanistan was brought to a conclusion. Hungary took part in the mission in Afghanistan at the request of the United States, and now at the request of the United States, we withdrew from there together with them. The international community accepted the withdrawal timetable of the United States, and took part in its implementation. In hindsight, facts proved that on a number of issues the United States had misjudged the situation in Afghanistan, and caused a serious emergency with its decision. The duty of the Hungarian Defence Forces lay solely and exclusively in rescuing our own citizens and the Afghans helping our work there, and helping our allies in rescuing the military staff and civilians serving there. Our soldiers accomplished their mission successfully. They deserve nothing but praise. The danger hasn’t passed, however. The Afghan crisis could induce new waves of migration. At present, we’re only a hair’s breadth away from this. Hungary’s position is clear. The Afghans leaving their country must be kept within the region, and must not be brought to Europe. Hotspots, refugee camps must be set up outside, not within the borders of Europe. Help must be taken there, rather than bringing trouble to Europe.
We must also reinforce Hungarian borders. Those who leave the region will attempt to enter the territory of the European Union through Hungary. In the past few weeks, the Balkans migrant route has been filled to saturation again. The Soros-type NGOs continue to help migrants enter Europe with money and organisational assistance, and we should have no illusions, they will continue to do so. The signs are clear. Up to mid-September last year, we detained 22,000 illegal border-crossers. So far this year as many as 73,617. And this year we have apprehended 719 people smugglers. This means that in one year the number of illegal border-crossers and people smugglers has tripled. The trend is clear, there is no point in deluding ourselves. Though it’s not unusual, it is nonetheless still shameful that while our police officers and soldiers also protect the security, welfare and comfort of the interior of Europe at the Hungarian border, from Brussels and Berlin Hungary is being continually shot in the back. They’re instituting further proceedings against those Hungarian laws that guarantee the closure of our borders. On this issue the Hungarian government will not compromise: despite all political pressure, we will defend Hungary’s borders against illegal immigration. In my mind, what Brussels is doing at present is betrayal. The betrayal of the peace and security of Hungary, and of Europe. If the governments of the countries situated in the comfortable interior of Europe so wish, we will let the migrants heading for Germany through as we did in 2015 at the request of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Austrian Chancellor Faymann.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The re-emerging debate on migration is destroying the unity of the European Union. Our differences cannot be bridged. Therefore, in the interest of preserving European unity, we propose that Brussels return all powers related to migration to the Member States.
Esteemed Fellow Members of Parliament,
I’d like to inform the House that in recent weeks the Brussels Commission attacked Hungary due to child protection legislation. They instituted an infringement procedure. They’re attacking the laws which don’t allow sexual propaganda in schools, on television and in advertisements. They have officially called upon us to change our public education, media and advertising laws. Their demands are absurd, and are contrary to the Hungarian belief that parents have the exclusive right to decide on the sexual education of their children. The government’s position is clear and firm: we won’t allow any sexual propaganda aimed at children. On this issue, the Hungarian people will have the last word in a referendum about child protection. Every democratically-inclined person was shocked that Brussels is not interested in the people’s opinion, and has no intention of respecting it. They won’t wait for the result of the referendum, but already now they’re blackmailing us, threatening us with lawsuits and want to force their own opinion on Hungary which no one has ever given them authorisation for. I’d like to remind you that in Hungary the people decided and continue to decide on the issues of migration and child protection, too. In Brussels, in pro-migration and LGBTQ countries this was never the case; there the elite, not the people decided on these issues. This is why we say that on the issues of democracy and the rule of law they would be better off cleaning up their own front yard first.
Esteemed Speaker, Esteemed Fellow Parliamentarians,
I’d like to inform the Esteemed House that we’re engaged in talks with the European Commission about the part of the European recovery credit fund that Hungary is entitled to. They’ve already agreed with 19 countries, and have yet to agree with 8. This gives rise to some concern as there are countries which already received their share back in June, while there are others who haven’t to this day. This seriously violates the principle of fair competition that the whole of the EU rests on. Hungary has a vested interest in strengthening the European Union, and therefore demands that the Commission urgently abandon its policy of distinguishing between Member States because with this they’re seriously threatening the economic foundations of the EU. Due to Brussels’ unprincipled, partial and professionally flawed policy, Hungary cannot find itself at a competitive disadvantage compared with other EU Member States. Therefore, the Hungarian government will advance the funds necessary for the programmes serving the recovery of the economy, and will launch them. The necessary funds have already been made available from the Hungarian budget and the international money markets.
Esteemed House, Esteemed Speaker,
I’d like to inform you that the National Bank of Hungary has increased Hungary’s gold reserves from 3.1 tonnes to 94.5 tonnes. This is a more than thirty-fold increase. Regarding the size of its gold reserves, Hungary is now in the top third of the international rankings. In the Central European region, we have the highest gold reserves per capita.
We have also adopted important decisions in the interest of the country’s energy security. You’re no doubt aware that the role of Russia in Europe’s gas supply is increasing. The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline has been completed, the United States approved the German-Russian agreement, and as soon as the Americans had done so Hungary immediately concluded its own long-term gas purchase agreement with Russia. The new Hungarian-Russian gas supply agreement will take effect from 1 October and will remain in force for 15 years. It will guarantee a safe supply for us because the annual gas quantity will reach us via two routes, via Austria and Serbia, bypassing unstable Ukraine. It guarantees an ample quantity of gas, 4.5 billion cubic metres annually. The agreement will allow us to preserve the results of the reduction of household utility bills. At the same time, with the aid of this agreement, we will be able to maintain reduced household utility prices in the long term as well.
Esteemed Speaker, Esteemed House,
Finally, a shift in the world’s power centres is now unfolding before our eyes, and the vulnerability of the international economic system is becoming ever more evident. The era of low international interest rates and cheap money is coming to an end. Ever more outrageous economic and political views are emerging in international politics. Additionally, we’re also facing further waves of epidemics and mass migration. These are no longer phenomena we’re observing from a safe distance. If we’re not alert, if we don’t prepare, they’ll be able to turn even our peaceful daily lives upside down overnight. The government takes the view that in this situation full of uncertainties the representation of national interest is the most important guiding principle for successful countries. If we abandon this path, we will drift back to the camp of unsuccessful countries where we were before 2010. Therefore, the government continues to seek your support. Thank you for your continued support of the government’s policy: let’s continue to keep Hungary first.
Thank you for your attention.