At present, there are 75,000 workers in Hungary who are in jobs requiring secondary qualifications because of the absence of language certificates. As part of the job creation programme of the Economy Protection Action Plan, 75,000 students are being released from the obligation of presenting language certificates as the economy will need workers with degrees, Minister for Innovation and Technology László Palkovics said at the Tuesday online press conference of the Operational Group responsible for the containment of the virus.

The language certificate exemption applies to all students who have successfully completed their studies in higher education by 31 August 2020, the Ministry for Innovation and Technology informed the Hungarian news agency MTI.

At the online press conference, Mr Palkovics described the protection of jobs as one of the most important elements of the economy protection action plan. Accordingly, for the duration of the suspension of work, the state agrees to pay 70 per cent of wages for a period of 3 months; however, the government would like employees to do useful jobs in the interest of their employers also during this period. In respect of persons working in research and development jobs, there is a 40 per cent wage support for 3 months.

Administrative burdens and taxes are being reduced, while for the facilitation of communication between business actors and the government, a business information portal has been set up at the website address The government is not withdrawing from earlier agreements, and as a result, the social contribution tax will decrease by 2 per cent from July, the Minister stressed. The deadline for the submission of tax returns has been postponed to 30 September, and exemption from the provision of security will be introduced in the Electronic Trade and Transport Control System. They are speeding up VAT refunds, reducing the time limit from 75 days to 30 days in the case of normal taxpayers and from 30 days to 20 days in the case of reliable taxpayers. Special payment facilities, payment by instalments, deferred payment and tax reduction options are being introduced, while forms are being simplified. Due to any omission occurring during the state of danger, taxpayers cannot sustain any disadvantage in that capacity. The documents of sick leave can also be submitted in electronic copies. The social insurance of workers sent on unpaid leave will not be terminated.

Calls for proposals with an allocation of hundreds of billions of forints will be released for companies retaining their work force for the purposes of technological developments, environmental protection and energy efficiency projects. In response to company shutdowns, they are organising online training for workers. Workers who have lost their jobs are able to attend further training and re-training programmes in the form of distance education. According to Mr Palkovics, further new workers could be required in particular in the areas of information technology. The state agrees to cover 95 per cent of training fees, while job-seekers are entitled to interest-free adult training student loans. University students will be able to apply for a one-time, any-purpose, interest-free student loan of the amount of HUF 500,000.

Sectors most affected by the virus and industries with extensive traditions in Hungary can expect extra funding. Accordingly, the construction industry, transport, logistics, tourism, the creative industry, the health industry and the food industry will have access to investment and development grants and tax cuts, in addition to the availability of preferential loans and capital programmes. HUF 600 billion is available for supporting tourism. The government is suspending the tourism tax up to the end of the year, the social contribution tax on SZÉP cards (recreational benefits) is being reduced to 4 per cent up to the end of June, and the applicable limit will also increase. The decline in tourism is a good opportunity for modernisation; therefore, refurbishment and development programmes are expected to be launched. The health industry will receive more significant support than ever before so that the products of Hungarian pharmaceutical companies and medical supplies manufacturers appear in Hungarian health care in a higher percentage. Both university and corporate research institutes will receive funding; their work will be coordinated by the Agency for Health Industry Innovation.

In the interest of protecting employers, Mr Palkovics has announced credit guarantee and capital programmes to boost corporate liquidity. These grants, he added, could protect Hungarian-owned businesses not only from economic decline, but equally from foreign acquisitions. Corporate credit facilities offered at preferential interest rates amount to almost HUF 2,000 in total, with state guarantees to the value of HUF 500 billion.

The deadlines attached to the home care fees of children will be extended, as will be the eligibility of parents raising children with permanent illnesses for higher family allowances. Instead of the end of the school year, this year’s eligibility for family allowance will be adjusted to the end of the state of danger. The rules and deadlines relating to pensions and pension-like benefits will also change favourably, he added.

The Minister stressed that the economy protection budget to a total value of almost HUF 9,200 billion does not rely on external assistance, meaning that it does not increase the country’s exposure. He said the past 10 years have proved that an independent economic policy results in a more resilient economy. Since 2010, Hungary has come out of every crisis stronger, and also on this occasion we must not forget that, despite the challenges, opportunities could likewise arise. Countries which take advantage of these opportunities, and are able to change and to find good answers will also be able to restore their economies to normal faster, Mr Palkovics stated.