The Government strives to achieve, as the guiding principle of its efforts, that Hungary should enjoy the fruits of the labour and enterprise of minimum 5.5 million people, the Prime Minister declared on Thursday in Budapest, at the Business Opening Forum of the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Chamber). Viktor Orbán also underlined that Hungary was not, in his opinion, responsible for the delay in the negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union; responsibility for the delay lies with the other party.

The Prime Minister stated in his lecture that 3.8 million people had actively worked in 2010, however, 1.2 million of them had not paid taxes; consequently, 2.6 million people supported the country. This is unsustainable, this is absurd, and tragic in the long run, Viktor Orbán warned, who believes that unless we manage to achieve that minimum 5.5 million people should work and pay taxes, the Hungarian economy has no future, and the Government will not be able to implement its programme.

photo: Károly Árvai

This is also a social-policy objective as the contributions of 5.5 million people would automatically result in the reinforcement of the middle classes, Viktor Orbán said. The Prime Minister believes that if there is no stable middle class, there is no political stability, and the economy is unable to generate the pensions payable to the country’s pensioners. If the election campaign is more about re-distribution than taxation, the government simply cannot succeed. If the opposite is proclaimed, however, we may confidently claim that we have succeeded in transforming society into a middle-class-centred community. Taxation and the middle classes „must be merged”; this is the stake, in the Prime Minister’s opinion, of the political challenges of the next year and a half.

As regards political stability, the Prime Minister said, had they abandoned the goal of preserving this stability, the streets of Budapest and the countryside would have looked like the streets of Athens. While Hungary is past the radical stage of reforms and transformation, and therefore the period of consolidation to come will be more peaceful and calm, there is no reform that would inspire universal agreement. However, this does not excuse the Government from the obligation to see its programme through.

photo: Károly Árvai

The Prime Minister said he supported the proposal of László Parragh, President of the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, that the Chamber and the Government should jointly review the reforms implemented to date and should determine which of these „may have gone astray, in an undesirable direction”. According to plans, these would be „identified” by the end of March, and the Cabinet would honour the recommendations of this joint committee by the end of April.

In his speech, the Prime Minister also made mention of the negotiations to be conducted with the IMF and the EU. He believes that it is not Hungary but the other party that is responsible for the delay. „I’ve been waiting by the conference table for two months, but they’re not coming to join me”, and this is a problem, the Prime Minister stated, adding that Hungary declared its intention to engage in negotiations, identified the position it wishes to pursue in the negotiations and also settled the issues related to the central bank.

Viktor Orbán (photo: Károly Árvai)

Viktor Orbán branded the European Commission’s proposal that the EU cohesion funds intended for Hungary should be suspended as an extremely narrow-minded policy and a poor management concept. How can the EU and the European economy recover from the crisis if it represents a bad management mentality that favours the bad and punishes the good, he asked, remarking that Hungary’s budget deficit will be the 7th or 8th lowest in the EU this year and also in 2013, while the country will also be able to reduce its state debt. At the same time, he repeated that he believed Hungary would not be denied a penny.

The Prime Minister stated he was not satisfied with the utilisation of EU aid in Hungary; changes must be made in order to render the utilisation of EU funds more effective.

photo: Károly Árvai

In response to the foreign criticisms levelled against Hungary, the Prime Minister remarked, the Government had, also to date, resisted any pressure that only supported radical resistance, however, there were some issues on which we must be straightforward.

László Parragh speaking before Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said, Hungary will have to face five major challenges this year. According to the President of the Chamber, Hungary must seek cooperation with business circles, while the issue of financing, the full implementation of the structural reforms, the extension of employment and the initial steps towards launching economic growth also represent further challenges. László Parragh declared, the Chamber provides its full support for structural changes. He said that if these reforms can be fully implemented, Hungary will have placed itself on a sustainable path. The President of the Chamber believes it is also equally important that Hungary should not fall very far behind Germany.