- 14 Jun 2023 11:37 AM
- Hungary Matters
The promise to preserve the government’s previous achievements is “too little for the majority of the country”, party leader Ferenc Gyurcsány told parliament.
Public education and health care are deteriorating, and wealth disparity is growing. Meanwhile, the sum total of incomes from wages is down compared with that coming from interests and profits, he said.
Momentum said the budget was driven by “short-term considerations to retain power”, and was abandoning “people, households, companies and local authorities”.
Further cuts to municipality funding would “finish off the capital”, Lajos Lőcsei said. Further, wage hikes for public servants and teachers were wholly missing from the bill, and support for welfare recipients are woefully underfunded, he said.
The Socialists called for the withdrawal of the draft, which they said should be replaced by a “new draft focusing on security”.
The budget was prepared before the final accounts of the 2022 budget were published, and so in many chapters, the government has no way of knowing what to expect, he said.
The party called on the government to prepare a new draft by October 31, and to raise spending on health care to 7% of GDP, welfare spending to 18% and public education expenditures to 6-6.5%.
Parliament Debates 2024 Draft Budget
Addressing the debate of the 2024 budget in parliament, the finance minister said the budget was “a defence budget”, adding that in times of war Hungary must guarantee its security, protect families, pensions, jobs and maintain low utility costs.
That is why the focus of the budget is to strengthen the scheme to keep utility costs low and boost national defence, Mihály Varga said, adding that Hungary faced challenges on several fronts such as the protracted war and “failed Brussels sanctions” that had resulted in a serious energy crisis in Europe.
The additional burdens in energy prices are costing the country more than 1,000 billion forints (EUR 2.7bn), he said.
Varga said protecting the country’s results achieved so far was the government’s primary task, adding that financial stability was essential for security.
A strong economy combined with budgetary discipline were needed in this regard, he added.
The government is committed to reducing inflation to single digits by the end of this year, and inflation is targeted at 6% next year, while the economy is expected to grow by 4% in 2024, the minister said.
The public debt as a percentage of GDP will be reduced to 69.7% this year and 66.7% next year, he said, adding that a deficit target of 2.9% of GDP was slated.