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28th June, 2018

House begins debate on 2019 budget

The 2019 budget is a robust budget and provides more to families despite its firm deficit targets, Finance Minister Mihaly Varga said as he opened debate on the 2019 budget bill in Parliament on Wednesday.

He promised that more will be allocated for families, supporting the birth of children, to creating jobs and keeping employees, maintaining the value of pensions, developing the economy and protecting the borders.

Economic growth, which has been above the EU average since 2013, provides the funds for these measures, he said.

The budget deficit target is 1.8% of GDP and the budget calculation was based on 4.1% GDP growth and 2.7% inflation.

In reply, Jobbik keynote speaker Janos Volner called the 2019 budget one of unsustainable economic and social trends that does not provide a real answer to the challenges posed by the Hungarian economy and society, but only addresses the symptoms of several important structural problems.

He maintained that this budget will not change the fact that Hungary is economically dependent on EU funds, foreign investment and remittances of funds from Hungarians working abroad.

Socialist caucus leader Bertalan Toth said the cabinet is building and living in a virtual reality as the bill is “stuck in the past,” supports those with higher incomes, and sets aside fewer funds, as a percentage of GDP, for education and health care than this year’s budget. At the same time, he said, the budget increases by half the funds for “government propaganda”.

LMP’s Antal Csardi also objected that less money will be spent on education, and criticised the transformation of the funding for the Academy of Sciences as an attack similar to the attack on the CEU.

Democratic Coalition keynote speaker Laszlo Varju said the 2019 budget will mean a loss of opportunities for families and businesses. He argued that the cabinet should withdraw the bill and recalculate the budget based on a 3.1% inflation rate, in accordance with the latest MNB forecast and taking into account the recent devaluation of the forint.

Debate on the budget will continue on Thursday and Friday. (magyarhirlap.hu; infostart.hu; magyaridok.hu; nepszava.hu; 168ora.hu; hirtv.hu)
28th June, 2018

Novak promises Ft 2trn for families

An unprecedented amount of funds will be available in next year’s budget for supporting families, Human Resources Ministry state secretary for family and youth affairs Katalin Novak told a Wednesday press briefing.

She said Ft 2 trillion will be available for supporting families, with Ft 355 billion available to cover tax breaks for families, and another Ft 242 billion envisaged for housing. (echotv.hu; magyaridok.hu; orientpr.hu)
28th June, 2018

Ban on homelessness outlined

The cabinet is packaging the ban on homelessness in an amendment to the act on misdemeanours.

Under the proposed amendment, the current ban on habitually living outdoors in World Heritage sites or public areas designated by local councils will be replaced by bans on staying on practically any public area.

The practice of regularly sleeping in public areas despite calls from authorities to desist shall be classified as a misdemeanour.

Under tougher penalties included in the bill, fines may be meted out to offenders. Those caught three times within six months may be jailed.

The bill orders local councils to repeal by October 15 their decrees in which they designate the places where “habitually staying in public areas” is banned. (index.hu; napi.hu; hvg.hu; propeller.hu)
28th June, 2018

Law on elections to change

The law on elections will change to limit the payment of state subsidies to small parties, under a bill submitted by Fidesz MPs Gergely Gulyas, Istvan Bajkai, Pal Barna Zsigmond, Mate Kocsis and Szilard Nemeth.

According to the motion, a party fielding a list for the elections may only obtain subsidies if the leading officials of the party and its list candidates, as well as individual constituency candidates, provide safeguards for repaying the funds.

No state funds will be paid to candidates who have not honoured earlier obligations to repay funds, or who were the candidate of a party which did not honour such an obligation.

Parties will be excluded from funding if they failed to meet a repayment obligation, or if their leading official was the leading official of a party which did not repay funds.

Several “bogus parties” and hundreds of millions of forints disappeared after the parliamentary elections, website 24 recalls. (24.hu; hvg.hu; 444.hu)
28th June, 2018

Pensioners lobby for higher pensions

Pensioners’ lobby group the Pensioners’ Parliament is asking opposition parties to file modifications to the 2019 budget bill, to raise pensions next year.

Their main objective is to have pensions indexed not only to inflation but also to real wages.

Real wages went up by 37.7% from 2011 to 2017, but the real value of pensions increased by only 10%, said the lobby group’s president Mihaly Karacsony.

In addition, real wages went up by a further 10.3% in the first quarter, he said.

The average net wage was Ft 210,300 a month in January-March, while the average pension was Ft 128,000. The minimum pension of Ft 28,500 has been unchanged since 2009.

The government dissolved the pension fund supervisory board on May 18, thereby obtaining full discretion over the fund, and giving it the power to redirect money from the fund to other budget areas, according to Karacsony. (nepszava.hu; napi.hu)
28th June, 2018

Gulyas to oversee university

Administration of the National Public Service University will be assigned to Prime Minister’s Office leader Gergely Gulyas alone under a proposal submitted to Parliament on Wednesday.

At present, the ministers overseeing public administration, justice, defence and law enforcement oversee the university. Under the new proposal submitted by Gulyas himself and Monika Dunai, unequivocal responsibility will be transferred to the PMO.

The bill also stipulates the establishment of an advisory body operating under the leadership of the PMO with the participation of the justice, defence, foreign and law enforcement ministers.

If passed, the bill will enter into force on August 15. (infostart.hu; magyarhirlap.hu; mnarancs.hu; nepszava.hu; privatbankar.hu)
28th June, 2018

Ban on new hires in state administration

The government has banned any new hires in several areas in state administration, effective June 20, according to a government decree, Nepszava reports.

Ministers are to report the number of their staff and vacancies as at June 19 to Prime Minister’s Office state secretary Marcell Biro.

The state administration union MKKKDSZ said the ban makes no sense, as vacancies amount to 10% of existing jobs.

If retirements erode the workforce further then the proper operation of state administration would be undermined, the union warned. (nepszava.hu; hvg.hu; index.hu)
28th June, 2018

Greenpeace aims for plastic bag ban

Greenpeace ha collected 50,000 signatures in 20 days in its campaign for a ban on single-use plastic bags, the environmental protection NGO announced on Wednesday.

Inspections have found plastic micro-particles in the Danube and Tisza rivers, Greenpeace underlined.

Signatories would like Hungary to ban plastic bags by 2020.

Romania decided a few months ago to ban these plastic bags from January 1, 2019. India will impose a ban from 2022. (index.hu; hvg.hu)

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