Josef hírek

2011.12.17. 21:46

Hungary announces new measures to plug budget gap

Budapest, December 15 (MTI) - The economy minister on Thursday announced new measures aiming to compensate for a lower growth and weaker exchange-rate target next year.

Budapest, December 15 (MTI) - The economy minister on Thursday announced new measures aiming to compensate for a lower growth and weaker exchange-rate target next year.

The government now bases its 2012 budget on economic growth of 0.5 percent and a rate of 299 forints to the euro. The new assumptions mean that a gap of 320 billion forints (EUR 1.1bn) must be plugged.

 

The original budget bill calculated with a HUF/EUR rate of 268 and GDP growth of 1.5 percent.

 

New measures include tapping 200 billion forints of reserves while generating an extra 120 billion by diverting private-pension contributions next year, raising 20 billion forints by hiking the excise duty on tobacco products, while another 52 billion should come from new ministry reserves.

 

Matolcsy said the future of the entire pension system would have to be reconsidered.

 

Janos Veres, former finance minister of the opposition Socialist party, said in spite of the announced "budget adjustments," the budget was "doomed to failure in the moment of its passage."

 

Veres said the budget chapters for 2012 were inadequate and the budget should be brought back to legislators for review.

 

He sharply criticised government plans to divert private pension-fund payments into state coffers in 2013. He said this was punishment of anyone who dared to resist government pressure and opt to stay in the private system.

 

Attila Mesterhazy, leader of the Socialist party, said his party s experts projected a 0.5-1.5 percent contraction in the economy next year, but a pessimistic forecast is for a 2.5 percent contraction.

 

Green opposition spokesman Gabor Vago said the government would not have to "introduce changes every other week if it stopped insisting on a flat tax". Vago added that the 2012 budget contained superfluous items in the tens of billions (of forints); the government s "prestige-raising investments" like building stadiums or restructuring squares.

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