Hungary is on the side of peace

Until there is finally peace and Brussels revokes the sanctions, there is no way to put an end to inflation. Hungary is only able to reduce inflation; it is the intention of the government to cut inflation to a single digit by the end of the year, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said at Parliament’s Monday session before the start of ordinary business.

The Prime Minister highlighted that on the first anniversary of the outbreak of the war, Hungary should make it clear that it will not change its former position. This is why Parliament should support the initiative of Fidesz and KDNP Members of Parliament that on the anniversary of the war, the National Assembly should lay down in a resolution that Hungary will remain pro-peace and will want to stay out of the Russo-Ukrainian war also in the future.

He added that there is a great need for Parliament’s clear position because there is enormous pressure on Hungary, “everyone can see that they want to pressure us into the war.” They want us “to join the pro-war countries,” he added.

He stressed that Hungary must endure provocations with daily regularity. “I ask you not to rise to the bait, and to stick to Hungary’s best interests in the arena of international politics,” Mr Orbán said.

He said in the past two months the Russo-Ukrainian war has continued, further sanctions have been adopted in Brussels, and it has become clear that energy prices will not return to the pre-war level. Even after the replenishment of European gas storage facilities, the price of gas has remained triple the prices experienced before the war, he added.

He stressed that the Brussels sanctions and high energy prices had led to inflation, in 2022 Hungary had spent HUF 4,000 billion more on energy than in 2021. “This money was taken out of the Hungarian people’s pockets by Brussels with the sanctions,” he laid down.

He observed that the national consultation on the Brussels sanctions had been completed; the Hungarian people do not agree with the Brussels sanctions policy.

Mr Orbán also said in 2022 the economy grew by 4.6 per cent, there were more jobs than ever before, exports broke all previous records, and last year foreign capital investment was the highest in more than 20 years. In 2022, we managed to reduce both the deficit of the budget and the sovereign debt, he added.
He said in February 2023, the government paid pensioners 15 per cent higher pensions as well as 13th monthly pensions increased by 15 per cent, and the range of family support measures was extended: women raising children are not required to pay personal income tax until the age of 30.

The Prime Minister highlighted that it had been a year since Russia attacked Ukraine. “This war is not happening at some inconceivable distance,” but is taking place right next door to us and is causing losses to everyone, he said.
He stressed that the Hungarian government was observing with concern that “step by step, the whole of Europe is drifting into the war.” European countries are sending tanks, fighter planes are on the agenda, and if things continue like this, there will be some who will want to said troops to Ukraine, he pointed out.

The Prime Minister said last April the Hungarian people decided – and this was also confirmed in the national consultation – that Hungary must be left out of the war; this is why they are not supplying weapons. They would like the war to end as soon as possible because “in this war no one can win,” only the number of losers and the extent of losses are rising day after day, he underlined.

Mr Orbán said if the war continues, ever more people will die, the threat of hyperinflation and economic collapse will become permanent, no one in the world will feel safe anymore and the war could easily escalate into a global one. We need a ceasefire and peace talks; Hungary urges peace at every international forum, he said, adding that Hungary cannot isolate itself from the bigger part of the world which wants peace. Therefore, he regards China’s peace plan as an important initiative and supports it.

Until there is finally peace and Brussels revokes the sanctions, we cannot put an end to inflation, the Prime Minister stated.

Mr Orbán stressed that as long as the policy of sanctions remained, there was no way to put an end to inflation entirely. However, by the end of 2023, the government will be able to cut it back to a single digit. He highlighted that this problem had been “unleashed upon us” by Brussels with the sanctions imposed on energy carriers, and while the sanctions had targeted Russia, in actual fact, Brussels had hit Europe. “The name of the illness is sanctions inflation, while the virus is the Brussels sanction itself,” he said, adding that Hungary never agreed with the sanctions.

Due to the sanctions, energy prices are rising, this is making transportation and production more expensive, as a result, food prices are increasing, including prices in the shops and the prices of services, he said, likening the situation to a row of dominoes, the first of which “was toppled over in Brussels and is running through the whole of Europe.” He pointed out that inflation was taking its toll especially on a country like Hungary which had no oil or natural gas of its own and was required to import most of its energy needs. Our industrial production is high, we have no energy sources of our own, and so in Hungary the sanctions energy prices are leading to even higher-than-average inflation, and it also takes longer to break them down, he explained.

He indicated: while it is true that only Brussels can put an end to inflation, Member States can reduce it. He said in the interest of breaking inflation down and protecting families, so far the Hungarian government had adopted 20 measures: ten decisions protect jobs, while ten decisions are designed to protect families and pensioners.

Listing the measures adopted in the interest of families and pensioners, he said: the government decided to maintain the system of reduced household energy prices up to the average consumption also in 2023. He added that according to the government’s expectations, also this year, reduced energy fees will amount to around half the market price in the case of electricity and a quarter of the market price in the case of gas.

This means that through the reduced household energy prices, an average Hungarian family saves up to HUF 181,000 a month, the Prime Minister stated, describing these subsidies as unique in the whole of Europe. Through these reduced energy prices, in the whole of Europe, Hungary spends the most on the subsidisation of the household energy bills of families, thanks to which the prices of gas and electricity for households are the lowest in Hungary, he stressed, adding that they will also maintain this system in 2023 and have raised the necessary funds.

The government has increased the minimum wage and the guaranteed wage minimum, tripling the minimum wage between 2010 and 2023 which is the fourth highest increase in the entire European Union during this period, he pointed out.

He said from 1 January 2022, the government had restored the 13th monthly pension and had also been able to pay it in 2023 without this adding to the deficit of the budget.

He also indicated that the government had extended the caps on the prices of food products both in time and in scope; they made a decision to maintain the system of price caps until they are able to set inflation induced by the sanctions on a downward course. He added that this also applied to the cap on retail interest rates which had been extended as well. This measure protects 350,000 families against a rise in interest rates, and the cabinet will lift it once interest rates start falling.

He further highlighted that the government had also extended the interest cap to student loans, protecting some 200,000 students against inflation, had decided on reducing the costs of base charges and the burdens of housing insurance, and had extended the firewood and social firewood programmes.

He confirmed that the government would introduce discount travel passes: from 1 May 2023, they will introduce monthly country and county passes which will be valid for both bus and railway services. The county pass will cost HUF 9,450 a month, while the country pass will be available for HUF 18,900 a month. As a result, those who go to work using public transport will be able to save thousands of forints a month.

Listing the government’s job protection measures, the Prime Minister said in the energy-intensive processing industry, they will support small and medium-sized businesses with an amount totalling HUF 220 billion, they have launched the Széchenyi Card Programme, and in 2023 they will spend HUF 290 billion on the programme offering preferential loans to Hungarian small businesses, as part of which they will have access to credit at just 5 per cent, rather than at the present inflated interest rates.

Additionally, the government has launched a factory rescue programme and an attached factory rescue guarantee and credit programme; this year, they will spend HUF 230 billion in total on subsidising the energy efficiency programmes of large companies, while the Hungarian Development Bank and Eximbank will launch a credit programme worth HUF 200 billion. They have launched the Baross Gábor reindustrialisation credit programme, and have extended the cap on interest rates to small and medium-sized businesses as well as to their loans, covering loans worth HUF 2,000 billion in total and providing help for as many as 60,000 businesses.

He also said that they had set up a new national capital holding system to help settle the capital situation of businesses and had introduced an agricultural moratorium to protect Hungarian farmers; as a result, 7,500 agricultural enterprises will not be required to repay and pay interest on loans amounting to some HUF 285 billion for 16 months.

The government will also launch a tourism action plan, he continued, as part of which these businesses will not be required to pay a development contribution, while they have also accelerated the use of SZÉP cards, he said, in order “for Hungarians to spend their money here at home.” The government has decided to double the subsidisation of commuting; as a result, employers are able to subsidise the commuting of some one hundred thousand workers with double the previous amount tax free. He added that they had also launched a work force subsidisation programme; as part of this, for six months they subsidise businesses with 50 per cent of the wage costs if they hire jobseekers under the age of 25 years or persons unemployed for minimum a month.

Mr Orbán stressed that the sanctions energy prices also had beneficiaries; the profits of energy giants are breaking records throughout the world. American companies are selling gas to Europe for much more than back at home which means that European companies and the European people have paid the majority of their sanctions profits, he said.

He recalled that Hungary had decided already in 2022 – “and we’ll repeat that also in 2023” – to take away a part of the windfall profits.

He highlighted that in the coming decade they would seek to modernise and swiftly develop Hungarian industry, and would engage in an economic policy that sought to equally favour domestic and foreign investments. In this new industrial policy, we will need more energy, and so we had to make some urgent decisions, he underlined.

He said they had adopted the decisions necessary for the development of green energy, wanted to accelerate the Paks II project, and had also decided to commission gas turbine power stations.

He said the detonation of the Nord Stream pipelines “was an act of terrorism.” If they did this in the North just in order to stop gas from coming to Europe from Russia, they may well do the same in the South as well. “Together with Serbia, we made it clear that should this happen, they won’t get off so lightly” as they did with the detonation of Nord Stream, he stated.

The Prime Minister stressed that in recent weeks the government had also been compelled to deal with “a shocking and outrageous paedophile case.” In Hungary, the number of child pornography cases is significantly on the rise, “with a sound mind, one just can’t grasp how things like this can happen in Hungary,” he said.

He pointed out that “things like this have no business in Hungary, especially not in our schools,” and so the government has given the authorities clear instructions to uncover all such incidents. They expect the school district leaders and school principals to ensure that all such incidents have immediate consequences, he laid down.

Highlighted that these scandalous cases show that “we can’t afford to take this whole gender issue, gender propaganda lightly.”

He recalled that a child protection referendum had been held on 3 April last year  in which 3,700,000 Hungarians had said no to gender propaganda unanimously. “Even if the whole world is going mad, even if Brussels is trying to excuse the inexcusable, Hungary will and must remain normal, an island in Europe where families can send their children to school in safety,” he said.

The Prime Minister asked every group in Parliament to cooperate on the issue of the protection of children.

Mr Orbán said “we Hungarians must always stand up for our compatriots beyond the borders, but especially in times of war.”

He stressed that “we mourn the Hungarians who died on the frontline of the Ukraine-Russia war.” It is painful that even in times of war our compatriots in Transcarpathia are exposed to atrocities, their right to the use of the Hungarian language is being curtailed and the principals of Hungarian schools are being dismissed, he listed.

He highlighted that the Hungarian ministry of foreign affairs must make it clear that the Hungarians in Transcarpathia deserve more respect.

The Prime Minister finally said in 2023 we will have to struggle with the threats of the ongoing war, inflation and migration which continues to pose a threat to our Southern borders all at once, and meanwhile, we will also have to stand up for our compatriots beyond the borders. He asked Members of Parliament, regardless of party affiliation, to help Hungary through this dangerous period with the strength of unity.