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Hungary seeks business community backing for austerity package

The Hungarian government, is struggling to control the largest budget deficit in the European Union, and wants support from business leaders in devising a plan to cut the shortfall. Company executives at a meeting in Budapest said they expect the government to set a clear path for development spending and the overhaul of state institutions, while agreeing with the need to cut spending and raise revenue, Economy Minister János Kóka said. Hungary's government wants to reduce the budget deficit to a third by 2008 to adopt the euro two years later. The Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány's plan has been criticized for relying too heavily on higher taxes and not enough spending cuts, but when this critic appears, no-one seems to be listening. “Businesses are important allies,'' Kóka said after the meeting today. “We haven't consulted them enough. There must be cooperation between political and business actors to reach the best possible results.'' Kóka will meet with business leaders monthly to discuss government plans, he said, adding the group has been the most vocal in its criticism of Hungarian bureaucracy, government mismanagement and regulatory problems.