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Top businessmen show the way out of crisis

Joining a eurozone must be a priority, and our task is to take the steps instead of talking about what should be done, said Péter Oszkó at the presentation of the annual report of the Hungarian European Business Council. The report shows the multinational member companies' views about the way out of crisis, highlighting the importance of optimism and cooperation.

Hungary's structural problems and the current recession should be separated, because there has long been a consensus among business leaders about the steps that must be taken to increase the country's competitiveness. However, solving structural problems would need the ability of the political leadership to cooperate, which has never happened, said the finance minister, formerly related to the HEBC as a businessman, now evaluating the report from the government's perspective.

Oszkó added that the recent budget cuts are so significant, that if the next government will be able just to keep it at this level for a year or two, and the economic performances start to turn to positive again, it would make it possible to eliminate the institution of the local business tax.

The leaders of member companies of HEBC unanimously appreciated the idea of cooperation, as a value expressed many times, but getting additional meaning as part of the corporate responsibility which will be further broadened to include responsible management and thinking. But what works well in business just won't work in politics: HEBC considers the present circumstances as in which there appears to be little chance of reaching a consensus.

As for the actual crisis management measures, the council welcomes that recommendations of company managers, or practices from the business life are put in practice through governmental programs. „However, we don't see a significant cut in taxes, neither greater self-discipline to cut public sector costs,” adds István Németh of AkzoNobel, one of the contributors to the report.

One of Hungary's biggest strengths is still human capital and human knowledge, so it is an important task facing the country is to create economic circumstances where the young people get proper training and do not plan to leave for abroad for ever.

„We feel that although the Hungarian workforce is highly qualified, there should be more dialogue between the politicians and the market when it comes to major decisions,” said Philips CEO for Middle Europe and Adria Benedikt Laux, when asked about the professional education level by Budapest Business Journal. At Philips the employees are also trained in-house, the most emphasis is put on language learning, especially English, but there are also soft skill trainings for the development of presentation and cooperation.

Another way of keeping the employee is mentioned by Electrolux CEO János Takács: his company decided to take a strategic step and freeze the wages. But Takács also told BBJ there is great opportunities in getting the production of other units or companies to come to Hungary from the more expensive sites. (BBJ Online)