Varga vows to boost confidence and stability in economy


Hungary's new economy minister, Mihály Varga, on Monday said his main aims were "stability, predictability and strengthened confidence". Speaking at a press conference, Varga said his work would be based on the principles of "openness, dialogue and cooperation". Varga said he would continue to place stress on consumption-side taxes, adding that incentives for economic growth remain the main thrust of economic policy. Speaking after a meeting with the Hungarian Banking Association, Varga said a solution to the problem of Hungarian borrowers struggling to repay their foreign currency-denominated loans should "use existing tools". "I do not think new tools are appropriate," he said. He added that no amendments or proposals will be made regarding the issue until the ministry knows the stand of the Hungarian Banking Association. Varga said the government views the banking sector as an "important partner" in boosting economic growth, but added that a solution to the problem of FX borrowers must first be found. Varga said he was unfamiliar with a proposal by government financial rights commissioner György Doubravszky on a solution for FX lenders, but added that he would ask the commissioner for information and whether he had consulted the ministry regarding his proposal. Varga said a "strategic cooperation" is planned with the National Bank of Hungary. There is a need to strengthen the professional nature of the ministry's work, he said. Planning should be made more precise and clear, and contradictory measures should be minimised, he added. Varga said he would visit institutions under the ministry in the coming days, mentioning tax office NAV, the State Treasury and government debt manager ÁKK. A protracted weakening of the forint is not in the best interest of the country, and that is why it was important to take steps which make the HUF/€rate of 285, on which the 2013 budget was calculated, realistic, Varga said in answer to a question. He thought the current weakening of the forint did not warrant a review, and will likely prove temporary. Varga said he aimed to replenish the ministry's staff by the end of the week. Three state secretaries and five deputy state secretaries left the ministry with former economy minister György Matolcsy for the National Bank of Hungary, he added. He said he would count on the work of the four remaining state secretaries. He said he will nominate NAV senior adviser Judit Gondos as administrative state secretary and his cabinet chief will be Balazs Rakossy who worked with him in a similar position at the Prime Minister's Office. Varga replaced Matolcsy who was recently appointed governor of Hungary's central bank.

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