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Orbán unveils modern Hungary's smallest-ever cabinet

Elections 2010Posted by administrator Tue, May 04, 2010 12:18:23
Hungarian prime minister-elect Viktor Orban named further members of a streamlined cabinet on Monday. The new government, with just eight ministries, will be the smallest since Hungary reverted to democracy twenty years ago.

Introducing his new cabinet, Orban stressed the experience of his new team.

"The job of the government is to represent national interests," he said. "There is a need for the kind of government members who are experienced and have leadership qualities, and are ready to act as political leaders, make decisions and take responsibility for those decisions," Orban said.

Orban announced earlier that he would soon propose changing the constitution to give the deputy prime minister executive powers as well as introducing the post of deputy ministers.

The inaugural session of parliament is scheduled to take place on May 14.

The centralised structure of the next government and his major appointments indicate that Orban is determined to produce swift efficiencies and boost economic growth.

Gyorgy Matolcsy will head a super-ministry in charge of the economy and development. He said the budget deficit will be in the range of 4.5 to 6.5 percent of gross domestic product in 2010.

Orban's government will follow a strict fiscal policy, Matolcsy said, adding that the IMF expects Hungary to keep its budget deficit low, cut its state debt, stimulate growth and start structural reforms.

He said Hungary should be ready to set a target date for adopting the euro by the end of 2011.

Matolcsy said earlier that substantive tax reforms will be introduced from January 2011 on. The tax reform will go hand-in-hand with a comprehensive domestic stimulus programme, he told the press last week. Taxes will be cut and simplified with a view to boosting growth, and family-based taxation will be introduced next year, he said.

The economy contracted by 6.3 percent last year and many economists only expect growth to return in 2011.

The new national development ministry, to be headed by Tamas Fellegi, will focus on efficient utilisation of domestic and EU funds and simplifying public procurement while giving preference to Hungarian businesses within the EU's framework. Fellegi will be in charge of state-asset management, information and communications, as well as domestic and European Union development. Though he did not rule out privatisation plans, he said it would not form the main stretegic thrust of policymaking.

Incoming Defence Minister Csaba Hende vowed to revamp the defence system, fight corruption within defence offices and the armed forces and to improve the safety of Hungarian soldiers on foreign missions.

Zsolt Semjen will be deputy prime minister, with a wide scope of responsibilities. The Christian Democrat leader will work on granting Hungarians beyond the borders dual citizenship.

Sandor Pinter will reprise his role as minister of the interior. He said ensuring law and order and improving public safety were his key concerns. Pinter said it was yet to be decided whether local governments would also form a part of his ministry's remit.

Janos Martonyi, who is to reprise his role as foreign minister, vowed to restore the country's credibility and self-assurance abroad while pursuing a strong and determined foreign and European policy. He said a clear and determined policy with Hungary's neighbours will also be a key issue. On the subject of dual citizenship for Hungarians abroad, he said changes would not mean that millions of Hungarians in neighbouring countries will automatically be granted the status, rather, it would be a carefully thought-out procedure.

Miklos Rethelyi is to head a new ministry of national resources which encompasses health care, education, culture, welfare, youth and sports. He said tackling hospital financing was his top priority.

Incoming rural development minister Sandor Fazekas said he would undertake closing the gap between Hungary's rural regions and cities, especially on employment and living standards. The new super-ministry under his command will incorporate agriculture, rural development, water management and environmental protection.

Orban announced earlier that Tibor Navracsics is to be his deputy overseeing public administration and the justice system. The one-time lawyer will be in charge of transforming the whole system of government so as to boost efficiencies and long-term financial sustainability.

Mihaly Varga will head the new prime minister's office as a state secretary. Varga is now at the centre of Fidesz investigations into the state of the budget.

Officials of the centre-right party, which gained over two thirds of parliamentary seats in the elections last month, have said they are committed to building a broad base of support for reforms aimed at boosting growth, reducing the national debt and overhauling bloated and costly state institutions. (Politics)

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