“Action against the compulsory resettlement quota should be a national issue”, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in Parliament.
In a speech at the opening sitting of the Hungarian National Assembly’s spring session, the Prime Minister pinpointed preserving the security of the Hungarian people as the most important task for 2016. Mr. Orbán stated that he has ordered reinforcement of the border security fence and the provision of capacities required for the construction of new sections of fence if required.
Last year, the Prime Minister said, Hungary was under pressure from migrants, who brought “chaos, upheaval, fear, crime and acts of terrorism” to Europe. But the Hungarian government and Parliament succeeded in protecting the country in time, the Prime Minister said. Mr. Orbán asked Members of Parliament to consider and support further legislative changes aimed at protecting the country and preventing acts of terrorism.
In addition to police and the military, the Prime Minister also thanked Hungary’s three partner countries in the Visegrád Group for standing behind the country “while all of Europe criticised Hungary”.
Thanks to our efforts, Hungary is now one of Europe’s most stable countries, he declared.
On the subject of European public opinion, the Prime Minister said that in general Europeans have “successfully shrugged off censorship”, and it has emerged that, on the subject of Hungarian border protection policy, many more people on the continent agree with Hungary than are against it. Today Hungary’s standpoint is the standpoint of the majority of people in Europe, and Europeans cannot understand why their governments are not doing the same as Hungary’s government is doing, he said.
According to the Prime Minister, the global situation and the many millions of refugees in various countries indicate that “in 2016 the migration pressure on Hungary will increase”.
In the meantime Europe is defenceless and weak, Brussels’ policy for handling the migration crisis has failed, and the EU lacks not only the capability to protect itself, but also the will to do so, he declared.
Brussels continues to want to admit and transport illegal immigrants into the European Union, whom it would then redistribute by force, Mr. Orbán said, adding that this is something not accepted by the Hungarian government, which will resist implementation of the plan.
“To us, the most important thing is that we are able to protect the security of the Hungarian people. […] It is our duty to prevent us being forced into living alongside those whom we Hungarians do not want to live alongside”, Mr. Orbán stressed, pointing out that 1.8 million people have signed a petition asking the Government to continue its policy of rejecting the compulsory resettlement quota.
The Prime Minister also asked Parliament to regard protecting Hungary from the compulsory resettlement quota as a national issue.
Summarising his stance on immigration, the Prime Minister said that this year in Brussels there will be a need for diplomatic, legal and political defence, while on Hungary’s southern borders there will be a need for military and police defence. This is why he has ordered the reinforcement of the border security fence and the provision of the capacities required for the construction of new sections of fence if required.
The most important task for 2016 is to preserve the security of the Hungarian people, Hungarian families and Hungarian settlements. Brussels must comply with international law and respect the will of individual nations, Mr. Orbán said.
Hungary has been successfully renewed
The Prime Minister also reported on last year’s economic performance and on the 2016 budget.
According to Mr. Orbán, the economic figures for 2015 confirm that since 2010 Hungary has been successfully renewed, and that Hungarian reforms are working. In 2010 the Government attempted to set about leading Hungary out of financial bankruptcy and debt slavery, and the data shows that its efforts were successful and the instruments chosen were correct, he said.
Last year the budget deficit was two per cent of GDP, which the Prime Minister said was an excellent result, being lower than the previous year.
The aim, however, is a “zero” budget, he said – meaning one in which the state does not spend more than is being produced.
By the end of 2015 government debt had been reduced to under 76%, and this reduction “is an especially good result within the EU”, because in most places debt is increasing, the Prime Minister said; he urged for further reductions in government debt, which he called not only a political issue, but a question of honour.
Mr. Orbán also reported on the unemployment figures: unemployment stood at 6.2% at the end of 2015, compared to a level of 11.5% in spring 2010. “If there is work, there is everything; if these is no work, there is nothing”, the Prime Minister declared.
Mr. Orbán also informed Parliament that economic growth was 2.9% last year, a result which puts Hungary among the EU’s frontrunners.
According to the Prime Minister, the Government must set a new goal for 2016: the construction of civic consolidation.
This already has stable financial foundations, he declared, citing as an example the record foreign trade surplus.
The goal of the budget is to enable everyone to take a step forward
The Prime Minister said that the goal of this year’s budget is to allow everyone to take one step forward.
This is served by three instruments, Mr. Orbán said: a reduction in taxes – the one percentage point decrease in the level of personal income tax and the reduction of VAT on home-reared pork and new houses; funding which enables people to move into new homes; and reinforcing families.
With regard to reinforcing the position of families, the Prime Minister mentioned the increase in child-based tax benefits for families with two children and various pay rises, including an increase in the minimum wage.
“With regard to pay increases, we have reached the limits of the Hungarian economy’s load capacity”, he said. He explained that following an increase of 30% last year, the armed and police forces are each due to receive further increases of 5% in each of the next two years, higher education workers have received a 15% pay increase, and the Government has given teachers a pay rise every year since 2013.
The Prime Minister also spoke specifically about teachers, stressing that teachers were the first to receive an increase in salary, for both moral and trust-related reasons.
“Hungarians generally trust teachers, and this is one of the reasons we are prepared to entrust them with what is most important to us in life, namely our children”, he said, adding that the Government is supporting current negotiations and “we will strive to come to an agreement with them”.
Variable salaries of healthcare workers will receive funding of HUF 12.8 billion (EUR 41.3M), which will be distributed among doctors and nurses. Junior doctors will receive an extra HUF 151,000, while general practitioners will this year receive the same pay rise they received last year, Mr. Orbán added.
He also said that it is planned for local government office employees to also receive a 30% pay rise from 1 July 2016.
“In the mind of the Government, these pay rises truly represent the reinforcement of families. […] In accordance with the performance of the Hungarian economy today, this is the level of pay rises we can responsibly undertake to provide”, Mr. Orbán said.
The Prime Minister also mentioned the “Home Creation” or First Home Programme (CSOK), which he said is a measure which both supports families and promotes economic growth.
Mr. Orbán described the Government’s measures in this area: VAT on housing has been reduced; the funding available to families who are purchasing or building a home has been precisely determined and increased; a national home creation partnership is being launched; the simplification of property construction procedures is also planned.
“We must support families and help them acquire their first home. Let the question of home creation be a national issue”, the Prime Minister said.
Mr. Orbán summarised 2015 by calling it a successful year, which has provided the foundations for economic success in 2016.
“The greatest challenge in 2016 will not be of an economic nature, but of a security nature”, Mr. Orbán said.