The ruling Fidesz party said on Wednesday that the budget bill presented to parliament by Finance Minister Mihály Varga earlier yesterday envisages a budget of “steady growth”, based on “responsible and provident” planning and is designed to guarantee security, economic growth, support for families and full employment.
Spokesman Imre Puskás said that the pre-2010 leftist governments had had “wasteful” budgets which hit families with austerity measures and tax hikes, plunging the country into debt and to the brink of insolvency. Hungary lost its economic independence, “danced to the tune of Brussels and the IMF”, and faced an excessive deficit procedure for nine years, Puskás said.
The Fidesz-Christian Democrat government, in turn, has “regained the country’s independence and stabilised its finances. It pursues a responsible fiscal policy that reduces state debt and induces a growth rate of over 4 percent,” he said. Since 2010, unemployment has fallen from 12 percent to 3.8 percent, wages have kept growing and taxes have been reduced, the Fidesz spokesman said.
Jobbik deputy leader Dániel Z Kárpát described the 2019 draft budget as that of austerity.
In recent years, a certain degree of economic growth could be realised thanks to European Union funding, but these resources are now running out and the ruling parties failed to “put the economy on its own feet”, and enable it to grow on the basis of its own resources, he said.
The opposition Socialists said that the 2019 draft budget was “not a Christian Democratic budget but rather that of an irresponsible, populist and communications-focused government.”
It is the budget of a country dubbed “Footballistan” where more than 100 billion forints are still being spent on building stadiums, the party said.
Whereas Varga talked about a budget of “secure growth”, EU funds still represent the engine of the economy and without them Hungary’s economy would “simply collapse”. What makes “the irresponsible policies of the Orban government” all the more shocking is that they are gradually removing Hungary from the EU, the Socialists said.
Leftist Democratic Coalition said that the draft budget was “a budget marking time, devoid of imagination and concept”. Although Fidesz is planning fast economic growth, the budget fails to address any of the “increasingly pressing” issues that are truly important for Hungarians, László Varju, the party’s deputy leader, said. Hungary has to strive to create a European quality of life, introduce the euro and “get closer to the ideal of the United States of Europe” but the draft budget fails to serve these goals, he said. Neither does it ease the “chronic lack of funds” in education, health care and the social services sectors, or give any indication as to how the government wishes to solve these problems, Varju said.
Green opposition LMP said that the draft budget failed to solve “the citizens’ everyday problems”, with “young people and the future” standing to lose the most, party lawmaker Antal Csárdi said. It is a “budget of unsustainability and rigidity”, he said. The 15 billion forint (EUR 46.7m) increase in education spending “doesn’t even come close to offsetting inflation”, Csárdi said, arguing that the budget left less money in real value “for the most important sector for our future”. The budget offers no solution to stop emigration as there is no trace of a substantial raise in wages or a solution for the housing shortage, Csárdi said.
LMP would stop several investments it deems overpriced, such as the Budapest-Belgrade railway line, and would cut VAT for all basic foods, he said.