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Orbán calls for radical economic reforms to join the euro zone

Without radical economic reforms, Hungary will never join the euro zone, opposition Fidesz party leader Viktor Orbán told public television on Friday morning. Asked about his position about when to introduce the euro, Orbán said, "the sooner the better. But if things go like they are now, Hungary will join the euro zone when hell freezes over. To keep the 2010 or a similar deadline, radical economic policy changes are required." The opposition leader, however, said certain things should be left unchanged, including the 13th month pension, getting rid of compulsory military service and the family tax allowance. The ex-premier said that if his party had not lost the 2002 elections, Hungary could have joined the euro zone in 2006 or 2007. "If things continue like this, the public finance deficit will grow to 8% of GDP by late 2005, and to 10% in 2006." Criticising Ferenc Gyurcsány's socialist-liberal government, Orbán said that those who modify the euro zone entry target date three times, "falsify the budget" and then try to apologize, forfeit their credibility. "For Brussels it would be important to see Hungary as a credible country with a credible government, making credible statements," he said. Meanwhile, in an interview with internet portal, Orbán said he would sharply cut taxes to reduce the size of grey economy. He said he would cut the 18 % personal income tax rate to 13%. Hungary also has a second, higher, rate of 38%.