Mr Orbán stated: the European people are paying a sanctions surcharge for energy which makes the future uncertain. The question is whether we will allow this situation to deteriorate even further as Brussels wants to introduce ever further sanctions, he said in continuation.
He added that the war keeps dragging on, today no one expects to see a swift closure, prices are “sky-high” which is taking its toll on people, and meanwhile, “speculators are rubbing their hands with satisfaction”. Everyone from George Soros all the way to the large shareholders of energy companies are “making windfall profits in the billions” from the prices that have drastically risen due to the sanctions. At times like this, enormous forces swing into action to adapt to a higher price of their own making, the Prime Minister said.
Regarding the national consultation related to the sanctions that were introduced against Russia, he said the more critical a period we live in, the more we need unity and concord. The Prime Minister stressed that his experience in politics is that in certain situations it is best to involve the people in decision-making, and from a legal point of view, the most flexible form of this is the national consultation.
Energy prices have been driven to the present record levels not by economic factors, but by the political decisions that were made in Brussels, he stated. If there were no sanctions, today the price of energy would be where it was during the April elections and the campaign. During the period leading to the elections, they presumed that the price of oil and gas would stabilise at somewhere around USD 100, and so the situation would remain manageable without changing the rules relating to the reduction of household energy bills, he explained.
He recalled that before the election campaign, there was a summit in Versailles where “EU countries led by the Germans and Hungary” agreed not to extend the sanctions to energy. In June, however, the Germans “changed sides,” in Brussels they changed their decision and introduced sanctions in relation to oil as well as placing the introduction of gas sanctions on the agenda.
He stressed that we would be in a far worse situation if Hungary had not obtained – at the expense of much fighting – an exemption from the sanctions relating to oil. In that case, we would not be upset by the prices – which are causing us headache enough as it is – but the problem would be that there would be no energy. We must adjust to the world market prices because “they are standardised effectively everywhere in Europe,” we are unable “to invent a separate Hungarian price,” he said.
Mr Orbán added that if from tomorrow morning no gas came to Hungary, the economy would not feel its impact for around four and a half to five months because “we have replenished our stocks”.
Criticising the EU’s sanctions policy, he observed that most bad political decisions can be rectified, “the sanctions decision is one such decision as well”. Without a change to this policy, the sanctions surcharge “will become built into the economy, and will stay with us in the long term,” it will become a part of our lives for the next five to ten years, the Prime Minister warned.
The government is protecting both families and businesses in the difficult situation that has developed, the Prime Minister pointed out, adding that without the protection afforded by the reduction of household energy bills, families would pay HUF 181,000 more monthly on average. In Europe, Hungary “is by far in the top position” as regards protection afforded to families as we are providing 30 per cent of the average income in the form of subsidies, while this is only 20 per cent in Germany and 6 per cent in Austria, he said.
For the time being, the budget is coping with this burden, and he has high hopes that they will also be able to maintain this system in 2023, he stated. He further pointed out that, in the interest of the protection of families, the government has also launched firewood and lignite programmes, has introduced price caps, will start a grant programme worth HUF 200 billion for small and medium-sized businesses, will launch a factory rescue programme and will prepare a job protection action plan.
According to expectations, the government will pay a pension premium also this year, the Prime Minister said. He recalled that in 2010 the government pledged to protect the value of pensions, and in the meantime, based on the performance of the economy, also gave back the 13th monthly pension. This is an agreement, and he regards it as a matter of honour, Mr Orbán said, adding that pensioners will receive the 13th monthly pension next year as well, and “we will also deliver pension raises adjusted to the rate of inflation”.
He said if the growth of the national economy exceeds three and a half per cent, they will further pay a pension premium.
“While there is a debate about this, I think this will happen this year as well,” Mr Orbán stated, referring to the central bank’s 4 per cent growth projection.
Regarding the opposition, Mr Orbán said they do not control their own will, “they are singing from someone else’s hymn sheet,” and so it would be a mistake for the government to base its policies on cooperation with the opposition. They are financed from America, and “he who pays the piper calls the tune,” this is the opposition we have today, he said.
The government is not planning to change the abortion legislation, the Prime Minister ruled this out. “I am firmly opposed to all kinds to changes to the abortion legislation, I argue in favour of maintaining the present system,” he stated, observing that at present this is not an issue they should concern themselves with as there are sanctions, there is a war, energy prices are sky-high, and “we have here this ‘dollar Left’ at our backs”.