Hungarian government to raise minimum wage and pay back taxes ahead of elections
The Hungarian government will reimburse 1.7 billion euros in income tax to families in early 2022 and also plans a sharp increase in the minimum wage, right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Monday at the opening session of Parliament , paving the way for next year’s elections.
Mr Orban, who faces a parliamentary election shaping up to be a competitive race for the first time in a decade, said the economy’s sharp rebound after the coronavirus pandemic left room in the budget for measures .
Hungary raised around € 4.4 billion in international markets last week in a surprise bond issue, to help cover rising spending and a likely delay in the arrival of money from the European Union recovery fund Covid-19, due to a dispute between Brussels and Budapest over LGBT rights and media freedoms.
Mr Orban has already inundated the electorate with donations, including generous home improvement grants, and last week extended a moratorium on loan repayments for vulnerable groups until mid-2022.
He said the economy will grow by more than 5.5 percent this year and there is already a labor shortage.
The government will grant tax refunds to all families next February. Payments will be capped at the level of income tax paid by a person earning the average salary.
“In total, the tax authorities will reimburse 600 billion forints [€1.7 billion] to 1.9 million parents, ”Mr. Orban told Parliament, importing an electoral revenue from his Polish allies, the populist and nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party.
The ruling party in Poland had a program in place that gave families 500 zlotys (€ 108) per month for each child and also exempted most people under the age of 26 from the obligation to pay income tax. returned.
Mr. Orban recalled that an income tax exemption for those under 25 will come into force next year. Retirees will also receive an additional payment due to rising inflation, he said.
He reported an increase in the minimum wage to 200,000 forints (€ 564) per month from 167,400 forints (€ 472) currently, saying discussions with employers were ongoing and there was a “good chance” of ‘a deal.
Opposition parties said the wage hike was long overdue and sharply criticized the government for what they called widespread corruption, soaring prices and widening the wealth gap.
“Three things have developed in Hungary. . . your luxury, the size of the yachts and the poverty, ”said Peter Jakab, leader of the opposition Jobbik party. “The prices are outrageous. “
According to four opinion polls carried out in August, Mr. Orban’s Fidesz and the broad alliance of opposition parties are neck and neck. The election is expected to take place next spring, although no date has yet been set.
Mr Orban, who has become increasingly radical on social policy to protect what he says are the traditional Christian values of Western liberalism, reaffirmed his support for a law which EU leaders say discriminates against homosexuals and transgender people and goes against the values of the EU.
The law, passed in June, prohibits “posting and promoting homosexuality” among those under 18. “We do not allow any form of sexual propaganda targeting children,” Orban said. – Reuters