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Fiscal Council still sees shortcomings in 2010 budget

Although recently approved amendments and corrections place the quality of Hungary's 2010 budget bill well ahead of those in past years, the bill still does not fully meet the stricter requirements of the Acts on the general government and on budget responsibility, the Fiscal Council said.

The shortcomings could still be mended during the last phase of parliamentary debate, starting next Monday, the council said.

The council is an independent body established to review budget bills as part of legislation on strengthening fiscal discipline approved in late 2008.

Among improvements still necessary, the council sees the need for the Finance Ministry to publish data regarding 2009 budget performance in a breakdown which makes comparison with 2010 budget plans possible.

The government prepared a list of the so-called external budget items - those governed by other laws thereby falling outside the scope of budget acts - as part of the budget bill, but such a list should rather be prepared and approved for the long term, as part of the general government act, the council said.

The council also sees the need to cut the number of uncapped budget items - those which could be exceeded without parliamentary approval. Some of the items on the list do not meet the respective requirements, it said.

The council welcomed an amendment proposed by the parliamentary budget committee that helped the nominal targets set by the bill for the two years ahead to be in line with legislation. One exception is the primary surplus target for 2012, which should be set in billions of forints and not as a percentage of GDP.

Parliament is scheduled to pass the final vote on the budget bill on November 30. (MTI-Econews)