Budapest (MTI) – The government aims to further reduce the public debt next year and targets 2.4 percent of GDP budget deficit and economic growth of over 4 percent, the government office chief said on Thursday.
János Lázár told a weekly press briefing that the three important targets in connection with next year’s budget are taking steps necessary to secure full employment, supporting families and guaranteeing security.
The most important objective is to ensure economic stability in Hungary, Lázár said, adding that the government planned to keep the rate of personal income tax unchanged at 15 percent in 2018 and to increase defence spending.
No decision has yet been made on the exact rate of the advertisement tax planned for next year, he said.
Speaking on the upgrade of the Paks nuclear power plant, Lázár noted that implementation of the technical and financial agreements was under way. The aim is to hand over the construction site to the Russian construction company in the autumn so the building of the two new blocks can commence in 2018, he said.
Meanwhile, commenting on the plan to introduce a European prosecutor, Lázár reiterated Hungary’s opposition, saying it would require an amendment to the EU’s founding treaty, and besides, joining such body should be voluntary. Further, a country’s judicial system is a matter of national sovereignty, he added.
Asked to comment on the recall of Réka Szemerkényi, Hungary’s envoy in Washington, Lázár said the decision had nothing to do with suggestions that the diplomat had failed to arrange a meeting between Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and President Trump. “The reason is there’s a new US administration in place,” he said.
In connection with Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén’s visit to Tehran and nuclear cooperation between Hungary and Iran, Lázár noted that a decision about jointly setting up a mini nuclear reactor for scientific, educational and research purposes had been agreed during a visit by Orbán to Iran in 2015. The cooperation will be within the framework of an agreement between Iran, the EU and the United States.
Lázár responded to a question about news reports suggesting that before 2010 Hungary’s secret services had been ordered by the previous Socialist-led government to carry out surveillance of Fidesz leaders. The previous government might have obtained information concerning the private lives of Fidesz leaders, said Lázár , adding that an investigation had been conducted in 2010.