Budapest, December 3 (MTI) – The number of Hungarians living and working abroad is estimated at no more than 450,000, Andras Tallai, the economy state secretary, said today.
Tallai told a parliamentary debate on emigration that the most the government can do is create an economic environment that ensures a good career outlook for young people. Efforts are needed in employment policy to create competitive careers and attract young people to return home, he added.
He said precise figures were not available about the number of Hungarians working abroad but a Central Statistical Office (KSH) labour survey for people aged between 15 and 74 covered people had not given up their Hungarian residency for good. This showed 10,000 such Hungarians in the year 2000, 51,000 in 2010 and around 100,000 in the third quarter of 2014.
Additionally, a recent KSH study showed that 350,000 Hungarians had left the country to live abroad between 1989 and 2012, he added.
Tallai said that comparing the Hungarian figures with those of other countries in central and eastern Europe in the past 10 years, Hungary fared best in this respect.
He said that over the past four years, real wages in Hungary had grown by 10 percent, and based on the projected stable GDP increase in the years ahead, gross wages and incomes will continue to grow.
Radical nationalist Jobbik lawmaker Daniel Z Karpat said the government in the past five years failed to offer a solution to the problem of emigration. He said it also brings up the problem of producing the resources necessary for services to old people in the future. Another speaker urged launching a social housing programme and injecting more money to education.
Opposition LMP lawmaker Benedek R Sallai said it was a “fairytale” that the emigrants will one day return. He said there is a shortage of work opportunities while several businesses suffer from the shortage of workers. The government’s public work scheme is not a solution, he added. Another LMP lawmaker urged the financial strengthening of colleges and universities in the provinces.
Opposition Socialist MP Ildiko Borbely said emigrants can still see increasing poverty and the lack of opportunities in Hungary. Hungary offers no alternative compared to the opportunities in the areas of science and culture that exist abroad, she added. She asked the government whether there are any plans to offer alternatives to doctors.
Janos Hargitai of the junior allied Christian Democrats said that the government did not want to belittle the problem but noted that the number of emigrants were relatively low compared to the other countries in the region. He said that migration was a natural phenomenon in the world of free movement of labour.