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We must create as many jobs as will be wiped out by the virus

He stressed that not a single Hungarian was alone. He announced a wage support programme, the reintroduction of the 13th month pension, the restarting of the national economy’s priority sectors, and the provision of subsidised credit facilities to the value of more than HUF 2,000 billion for the funding of businesses.

The goal is to create as many jobs as will be wiped out by the virus, Mr Orbán said, pointing out that we are going through difficult times, but not a single Hungarian is alone. “We will succeed if we take good care of one another,” he stressed.

He said the economy protection action plan will be implemented in three stages. We are already past the first phase, he recalled, including social security contribution reductions, the help provided for small businesses paying their taxes in the ‘kata’ regime, and the suspension of credit debt repayments.

They are launching phase two on Monday.

The three phases of the action plan will regroup in total 18 to 20 per cent of GDP, the gross domestic product, including programmes launched by the central bank, the Prime Minister said, announcing that a departure from the 2020 budget is necessary due to the changed situation; the decree regarding this will be released on Monday. They are raising the deficit of the budget from 1 per cent to 2.7 per cent.

The phase starting on Monday consists of five programmes.

The first one is aimed at the preservation of jobs: in the case of shortened working hours, the government is ready to foot a part of the wage costs of employers as a specific Hungarian form of wage support, he said.

As part of the programme called ‘family and pensioner protection’, they will reintroduce the 13th month pension in four instalments, he announced. As a result, in February 2021, in addition to the January pension, pensioners will receive an extra week’s pension, with the same arrangement repeated in 2022, 2023 and 2024, he said, adding that while right now jobs must be created, we must not forget about pensioners – our parents and grandparents – who are now most at risk from the present situation.

The Prime Minister also said one of the programmes features priority sectors of the national economy which will have to be restarted. These include tourism, the health industry, the food industry, agriculture, the construction industry, logistics, transport, the film industry and the creative industry.

He also said, in the interest of providing funding for businesses, they will offer interest- and guarantee-subsidised credit facilities to Hungarian businesses to the total value of more than HUF 2,000 billion.

At the same time, in the interest of creating jobs, they will support projects to the tune of some HUF 450 billion, Mr Orbán stated.

The Prime Minister said with ten years of hard work and perseverance, Hungary was about to find its feet when the coronavirus arrived in Europe and put in danger all “that we had worked for”.

He described the situation as unfair, indicating that “it’s not our fault, but this does not change the fact that we must face a serious challenge”. The situation is unfair, but this does not excuse us from our responsibility, “we can’t resign ourselves to it, we can’t accept it, we must fight” the epidemic and its economic consequences all at once, he said. “Saving human lives and providing for the future,” he stressed.

He observed that ten years ago, the country had anchored itself to financial stability and responsible fiscal management, and “we’re not about to release that anchor”.

Regarding the division of labour within the government, in the company of the ministers concerned, Mr Orbán said he asked Minister for Innovation and Technology László Palkovics to coordinate and supervise the whole programme.

Minister without Portfolio for the Management of National Assets Andrea Mager will be responsible for giving state-owned companies an impetus and connecting them to the economy protection action plan, he said.

He expects Finance Minister Mihály Varga to make the necessary funds available and to guarantee fiscal discipline at the same time, the Prime Minister added.