Hungary to cut number of poor by 450,000 by year 2020, says state sec

Washington, February 10 (MTI) – Hungary aims to reduce the number of residents living below the poverty line by 450,000 in ten years under the EU 2020 strategy, the state secretary of the Ministry of Public Administration and Justice said in New York on Thursday.

Zoltan Balog, state secretary in charge of social inclusion, addressed the 49th session of the United Nations’ Commission for Social Development.

    ”We can only act efficiently against poverty if we create as many jobs as possible,” Balog told MTI by phone. The fight against poverty also required international cooperation, with states or groups of states setting concrete social targets.

    Balog said he had visited Harlem and learned about the Harlem Children’s Zone social inclusion programme for poverty-stricken children and families. The government is considering ways to adapt the programme in certain parts of Hungary.

    He said he had met former New York Governor George Pataki whom Prime Minister Viktor Orban had asked to coordinate the collection of donations in the US to victims of the red sludge flood in western Hungary. Pataki will travel to Hungary to visit the site next week, he added.

    Balog said he had held talks with Isabel Maria Martinez Lozano, Spanish State Secretary for Equality Policies, to win Spanish support to the Hungarian initiative for a European Roma framework strategy.

    Balog attended a Holocaust memorial event at the UN on Thursday and held talks with rabbi Arthur Schneier, of Hungarian descent.

    He is scheduled to attend a dinner with Hungarian-American financier and philanthropist George Soros who recently met with Orban to discuss support for Roma programmes in Hungary.