Govt makeup likely to change, says PM

Budapest, June 3 (MTI) – Not all members of Hungary’s centre-right Fidesz government will stay on board for the full four-year parliamentary cycle, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told tabloid Blikk in an interview on Friday, without clearly denying plans for an upcoming government reshuffle.  

Orban said there were ministers who had made it clear that they do not want to stay in their seats that long, he told the paper, without giving names. Orban told the paper that there have been different agreements made with different people.


“If the government faces new tasks, it will be necessary to accommodate to them,” he said.


Calling for renewal and reorganisation in the country, Orban told a conference earlier in the week that “the government’s current political abilities were not yet up to the task of filling the framework of growth with functioning programmes.”


Orban addressed newly-announced plans to help troubled householders of foreign currency-denominated mortgages, who are facing financial difficulties in paying their mortgages. He said to ease their situation and prevent evictions en masse the government will build 40-80 sqm light-frame homes where defaulted home-owners can move into and pay rent.


The government will soon implement the agreement just sealed with the banking association on fixing repayments for Swiss-franc mortgages at 180 forints to the franc until 2014, Orban told the paper. As for dispossessions, on which a ban will be lifted as of July 1, Orban said it would only affect real estate worth 30 million forints or more in the first phase.


“The richest will come first, as they are the ones who can find a solution quickest. The poor are the very last to be affected,” he said, adding that poor families will have three options to choose from: stay in their homes which the state will purchase and pay rent, move to a smaller home and restructure their mortgage, or become tenants in state-owned housing. Orban said work on building homes on state-owned land in the outskirts of Budapest for the latter option will start soon. He said officials are looking into options to build these homes in public works projects to make it even cheaper.


Reflecting on the government’s first year in office, Orban said if he could do it over, he would do the same again. In particular, the paper asked him about the move to curtail the powers of the constitutional court and another move to scrap mandatory private pensions and channel pension savings into the state fund. Orban said he regretted neither.


“In the first case, the idea was that until the economy gets back on its feet, the Constitutional Court should not have a say in tax matters, but, in the end, I was convinced that there should be a few exceptions. It is precisely then that they axed the law on 98 percent tax on severance pay. I still wonder whether I was right to make concessions,” he said.


Orban said the pension system’s restructuring was a key issue, and the process of returning the state pension system to sound footing is still not complete.


On the government’s current debate on early retirement with law enforcement and fire services unions, who are protesting government plans to take away what they feel were rights earlier earned, Orban said “our starting point has not changed.”


“First, Hungary was on the verge of collapse a year ago and is still in a financial danger zone. In such times I would not use the phrase ‘earned right’,”, he said, adding that “there is no one in Hungary currently in the position to think they do not need to change the life they had been living.”


Orban insisted he expected law enforcement staff to work.

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