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Parliament approves 2020 budget; slashes MTA funding

Lawmakers approved the 2020 budget with a vote of 127 for, 58 against, and no abstentions on Friday. The budget targets revenue of HUF 21.426 trillion, and expenditures of HUF 21.793 tln, producing a deficit of HUF 367.0 billion, less than half this yearʼs HUF 998.4 bln target.

The budget targets a deficit of 1.0% of GDP, calculated according to the European Unionʼs accrual-based accounting methodology, noted state news agency MTI. It is under the target of 1.5% of GDP in the updated Convergence Program submitted to Brussels in April.

Hungaryʼs year-end state debt level, relative to GDP, is set to fall from 68.6% targeted for 2019, to 65.5% for 2020.

The budget sets aside HUF 488 bln in reserves, including HUF 378 bln in the National Protection Fund, and HUF 110 bln for "extraordinary government measures," more than double the total of HUF 225 bln of reserves in the 2019 budget.

The cost of debt maintenance targeted in the budget is HUF 1.078 tln.

The budget assumes GDP growth of "around 4%" and consumer price inflation of 2.8%.

Controversially, the budget cuts the expenditures of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA) by 69% from this year to HUF 17.2 bln. At the same time, the 2020 budget contains a new chapter for the Eötvös Loránd Research Network (ELKH), a body the government recently established to take over the MTAʼs network of research institutions. Expenditures of the ELKH are targeted at HUF 48.2 bln.

The bill on the future operation of the MTA research network was passed by Parliament on July 2, and rubber-stamped on Friday by President of the Republic János Áder over constitutional objections.