Hungary CPI in EU 'midfield', Varga says

Analysis

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Hungary's consumer price index, which reached 8.6% in March, is in the "midfield" in the European Union, Finance Minister Mihály Varga said in a post on Facebook on Friday, according to a report by state news wire MTI.

 "Eurostat's data show that inflation is high across Europe because of runaway energy prices," he said.

"The figure for Hungary is in the EU midfield, in spite of the fact that the scale of inflation is well over the average in the Central and Eastern European region," he added.

The Eurostat data, which Varga included in the post, show CPI was 9.6% in both Romania and Slovakia, 10.2% in Poland, and 11.9% in the Czech Republic in March.

The average CPI for the EU was 7.8%.

Varga said government measures have taken "several percentage points" off headline inflation.

At a weekly press briefing on Thursday, Gergely Gulyás, the head of the Prime Minister's Office, said government measures to control prices had cut headline CPI by 4.4 percentage points in March.  

The government capped retail vehicle fuel prices at HUF 480 per liter from November 15 to ease accelerating inflation. From February 1, it rolled back prices for a number of staples, including pork, cooking oil, and flour, to mid-October levels. These measures are set to end next month

Hungarian households have also been shielded against the impact of higher global energy prices by a regulated utilities price scheme that has been in place for years.

Gulyás said the household utilities price scheme shaved 2 percentage points off headline CPI, while the fuel price cap reduced it by 1.5 percentage points and the price caps for staples by 1 percentage point.

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