Budapest, September 24 (MTI) – Opposition parties called on Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Wednesday to clarify whether press reports of a planned 1.7 trillion forint (EUR 5.5bn) austerity package over the next few years are true or not.
Gergely Karacsony, a senior member of the E-PM alliance, called on Orban to divulge whether or not the government planned to cut pensions and introduce fees for public services.
He told a press conference that Economy Minister Mihaly Varga on Tuesday had “spilt the beans about a secret plan by Viktor Orban to introduce 1,700 billion forints worth of austerity measures.”
Karacsony said Hungarian society would be unable to tolerate cutbacks on such a scale. If there is indeed such a plan, it will involve drastic pension cuts and the introduction of fees in education and health care, he added.
If Orban keeps silent about this issue, it would be tantamount to an admission, he said.
Varga told a conference on corporate financing organised by daily Napi Gazdasag that the government would stick to its budget deficit target of below 3 percent of economic output for the rest of its governing cycle. He added that budget spending needs to be gradually reduced to reach 45 percent and redistribution should be narrowed, while the year-end public debt should be continually shrunk.
According to a report by napi.hu, Varga for all intents and purposes announced budget spending cuts of 1.7 trillion forints, or 5.5 percent of economic output, in the next few years.
Erzsebet Schmuck, a lawmaker of the green party LMP said in a statement that the government’s economic policy would result in more and more austerity measures and Varga had announced spending cuts similar in size to the Bokros package, a series of austerity measures which were reviled by many Hungarians. Schmuck said Varga failed to explain why the measures would be introduced and who would be affected by them. Instead of introducing austerity measures, local farmers and small and medium-sized companies should be strengthened, she said.
Photo: MTI – Balázs Mohai