Concerning the steps taken by the government to aid Hungary’s economic recovery, Gergely Gulyás noted that the operative board overseeing the recovery had approved more measures this week.
These include Hungary’s Eximbank opening a 100 billion forint (EUR 279m) credit line with 0.1% interest to boost SME investments, steps to accelerate public procurements, and allowing foreign companies in Hungary to employ foreign workforce up to 20% of their headcount, the PM’s chief of staff told a press briefing. Asked about the potential introduction of more tax cuts, Gulyás said the government would wait to assess the results of the National Consultation public survey before starting talks with employers and employees.
Meanwhile, he said the government wanted to see Liszt Ferenc International Airport in state hands and at the very least under Hungarian ownership. He noted that in a 2005 televised debate, Viktor Orbán had asked then-Socialist prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány not to sell the airport. However, the left-wing government sold it anyway, causing “serious damage”, Gulyás said, adding that the Fidesz government was now in talks on buying it back.
On another subject, Gulyás said it had been long expected that if the Americans withdrew from Afghanistan the region would destabilise, and this was likely to trigger a new wave of migration. Meanwhile, he said if Poland were to leave the EU, the bloc itself would be worse off. Poland, he added, had an interest in asserting its interests within the EU, and the Visegrad countries, including Poland, benefited from mutual help. Commenting on government measures to control the price of construction materials, he said price rises were expected to plateau soon and prices would decrease within a few months’ time. On the subject of pay in the education sector, he said lecturers in state-run colleges and universities would get a 15 percent wage rise in early September and another 15 percent in January. Regarding “traffic chaos” in Budapest, Gulyás derided the capital’s “badly thought-out traffic rules” and “unused cycle lanes” which caused “huge traffic jams for motorists”. He suggested that the mayor, Gergely Karácsony, should spend more time doing his day job rather than concentrating on his bid to become the next prime minister.
On the subject of the possible withholding of EU recovery money, he said the European Commission would have to “find its legal footing”. The Hungarian government’s responses to its proposals, he added, had always been well-intentioned, and it would continue to respond accordingly. Commenting on infringement proceedings launched against Hungary because the commission objected to the Hungarian authorities obliging a publisher to carry a content warning in the case of a children’s book portraying non-traditional gender roles, Gulyás insisted the proceedings lacked a legal basis and, moreover, were unconnected to the child protection law. The government office decided to sanction the publisher on the basis of Hungary’s consumer protection law, he added.