Fidesz Says 2013 Marked Economic Turnaround, Opposition Say Public Debt Record-High
Budapest, October 14 (MTI) – The year 2013 was characterised by an economic turnaround, ruling Fidesz keynote speaker Lajos Szucs said, while the opposition Socialists noted the public debt had grown to record high, in a debate om the final accounts of the 2013 budget in parliament today.
Szucs said the budget had been stabilised, the deficit had remained permanently low and Hungary’s excessive deficit procedure had been lifted all in the same year.
He attributed higher-than-expected economic growth to investments, adding that the car industry and processing had contributed significantly to the enlivening of the economy.
Szucs said more money had been left in people’s pockets and several measures introduced to reduce the stock of foreign currency loans, generally seen as an obstacle to growth.
Socialist keynote speaker Sandor Burany said the public debt was at a record high and larger than in 2010 when Prime Minister Viktor Orban took office. The government has failed in the fight against public debt and the debt has tended to rise in relation to economic performance, he said. According to Burany, 2013 was characterised by growing taxes and lagging salary growth in a multi-year comparison. He accused the government of having instituted “brutal” austerity measures and he complained that its economic policy was unpredictable and hasty.
Radical nationalist Jobbik’s Janos Volner said the government had failed to reduce the public debt despite setting it as a target during the previous Orban government. The debt was 82 percent of GDP at the end of the first quarter of 2010 and has risen to 85 percent. Had the governent stuck to its plan, it would be 65-70 percent, he added. This has happened despite 3,000 billion forints (EUR 10bn) in private pension savings having been “burnt (by the state) on the altar of reducing the public debt,” he said.
The opposition green LMP’s Erzsebet Schmuck said Hungarian society had paid a large price for last year’s budget. The 2013 budget was not about the Hungarian people but about fleece them and line the pockets of oligarchs close to Fidesz, she added.
The main macroeconomic indices of 2013 serve a sustainable budget and development, head of state auditor ASZ said at Tuesday’s parliamentary meeting.
Laszlo Domokos, citing a study completed by the auditor, said that local councils’ financial management had stabilised and the “favourable budget balance of local authorities is sustainable over the long term”.
He noted that EU subsidies had grown by 45 percent compared to the previous year, though most of the money was taken up in the second half of the year. Whereas Hungary contributed 272 billion forints (EUR 890m) to the EU budget, it managed to tap 1,583 billion from EU sources, he said, adding that the ratio of disbursements had risen to 61 percent from 40 percent a year earlier.
Tax and contributions income grew by 6.1 percent compared with 2012, around 534 billion forints short of the government target, however, he said.
Andras Tallai, economy ministry state secretary, said economic growth had been set on a sustainable path in 2013, providing a good basis for the further strengthening of the economy’s performance this year. He emphasised that international organisations and investors had recognised the government’s economic policy achievements and the results of its disciplined management of the budget. This was also manifested in the EU’s decision to lift Hungary’s deficit procedure, he added.