The 110 billion forint (EUR 354 million) spending freeze announced on Thursday is a precautionary measure, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in a radio interview today.

Speaking to public Kossuth Radio, he stated that even though the deficit target would be met, Minister for National Economy Mihály Varga made the proposal as the shortfall would be on the margins of the 3 percent of GDP required by European Union regulations and in such cases it should be made clear that the Hungarian Government is doing everything necessary to stick to the target.

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The significance of this is that Hungary must continually raise money on the market in order to service its expiring debt, he emphasised, adding that interest rates influences how stable creditors regard the budget. "I don’t think the freeze is necessary, but rather a precautionary measure," he pointed out.

The Prime Minister also spoke on the topic of university chancellors who are to be put in charge of institution finances, many of whom have by now been nominated and were, he said, without exception recognised economic professionals. He said Hungary's universities are in very bad shape financially, adding that several have already undergone screening and now all institutions will have to be properly examined. He stated that the financial conditions under which universities are operating are unsustainable in the long term.

Talking about healthcare, Prime Minister Orbán underlined that the network of general practices must be strengthened, adding that the Government wants to avoid patients being charged for "extra services".

Speaking about the new President of the European Commission, the Prime Minister said he agreed with some of Mr. Juncker’s ten points and would hold talks with him on the others, such as immigration. He stated that though the EU regards immigration as something positive, people who leave their home countries due to economic hardship must be encouraged to stay at home, whereas those who are genuinely fleeing political persecution should be welcomed. The Prime Minister said Europe needed a workforce, and it should mobilise its own unemployed rather than spending money on immigrants.

The Prime Minister said he agreed with Mr. Juncker on a meeting to appraise the disputes between the EU and Hungary before the new European Commission begins work. Topics of discussion would include the Land Act, foreign currency loans, cheap energy, utility price cuts and taxes on multinationals and banks. He also noted that he has a good personal relationship with the new EC President.

(MTI / Prime Minister's Office)