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Orbán staunchly reaffirms government’s policies, slams critics in annual “state of the nation” address

Hungary TodayPosted by administrator Wed, February 08, 2012 11:49:05
Prime Minister Viktor Orban staunchly reaffirmed his commitment to measures his government has taken at an annual “state of the nation” address in Budapest on Tuesday afternoon, saying they formed “irreversible” new foundations for the country.

Orban said that the bank levy, crisis taxes and repayment scheme for forex mortgage-holders were not “the most elegant steps of his life [...] but the government had no time to waste and had to take these measures to keep the country afloat.”

Says critics of constitution want country mired in debt

Orban said critics of Hungary’s new constitution both at home and abroad had an interest in the country sinking deeper into debt in order to advance their own financial and political gains.

Orban said he was prepared to cooperate with everyone whose goal is to help the creation of a strong Hungary. He added, however, that he would fiercely combat all policies and endeavours that sought to restore the regime that had weakened the country and plunged it into crisis.

He also said Hungary would always have friends such as the Lithuanians and Poles.

The prime minister said the year 2011 had been “overwhelming” for Europe and had exceeded all expectations. Dangers such as the bankruptcy of members of the euro zone, the demise of the single currency and the union itself falling apart were no longer in the realm of fiction, and an economic recession was a realistic danger, he said.

Orban said the country was in a situation that “tests our faith”, comparing it to that of the communities of Kolontar and Devecser, which were covered with a flood of red sludge in 2010, in Hungary’s worst ever industrial disaster. He commended the bravery of the citizens of theses communities for their recovery in the period that followed and held up their example as one to be followed by the rest of Hungarians.

“We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” he said.
Defends flat tax

Orban dismissed the idea that wealthy people paid more tax with a higher tax rate, insisting this was not the “Hungarian reality”. He said the rich always found a way of avoiding paying their taxes and the middle class ended up paying.

He said for this reason the middle class must be protected by a “proportionate, single-rate” system. The new flat-tax would only be fully implemented in 2013, when lower earners, too, would be better off, he said.

Orban also said Hungary would have lost its economic sovereignty — and it would be in the same situation as Greece — but for the government’s efforts to curb the public debt.

He said the government had managed to rein in the public debt, even if the forint’s volatility blurred the picture. Hungary could not feel fully independent as long as the public debt was high, he added.

He noted that the new constitution enshrined efforts to cut the debt and to keep the budget balanced. He said this would prevent irresponsible governance from putting future generations at stake.

The prime minister said his priority was to ensure the country’s finances were managed responsibly. He said the government had kept the budget deficit below 3 percent of gross domestic product for the first time since it joined the EU, which was important because “below 2.8 percent the public debt automatically falls”.

He said talk of Hungary’s bankruptcy was ignorant of the country and its people.

The Szell Kalman economic plan has been 83 percent met, Orban said, adding that due to the government’s pact with the banking association more than 160,000 people had been rescued from the debt trap, while burdens for many others had been reduced.

Orban asked the public to support an economic policy which united the interests of the middle classes and pensioners. Pensions, he said, had kept up with the rate of rising utility bills.

Orban said he would defend the new law which allows women to retire at any age after working for 40 years at all international forums.

Editor’s Note: The article above was edited to include content from Econews, MTI’s business and financial newswire. (Politics)

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