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Govt aims to raise number of working taxpayers to 5.5 mln

Hungary's government aims to raise the number of Hungarians who are employed or have their own businesses to at least 5.5 million, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said at an event organized by the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MKIK) on Thursday.

Orbán noted that just 3.8 million Hungarians worked in 2010, and 1.2 million of these did not pay any taxes. He called the situation an "absurdity" and a "tragedy in the long term".

He said there would be no future for the Hungarian economy and the government could not implement its program if at least 5.5 million Hungarians did not work and pay taxes.

The number of "economically active" Hungarians - those working or looking for work - averaged 4.3 million in October-December, the latest data from the Central Statistics Office (KSH) show. The number of "economically inactive" Hungarians averaged 3.4 million during the period.

Orbán said Hungary's talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union (EU) on precautionary financial assistance were being drawn out not because of Hungary, but because of the other parties involved.

"We've been waiting at the negotiating table for two months, but they haven't come," Orbán said, explaining the problem. He added that Hungary had expressed its intentions to negotiate, prepared its main negotiating positions and taken care of questions on the country's central bank.

Orbán said the European Commission's proposal to suspend some of Hungary's Cohesion Fund allocation was extraordinarily bad policy. He asked how the EU and the European economy aimed to get out of the crisis if a way of thinking was adopted that supported the bad and punished the good.

Orbán pointed out that Hungary's fiscal deficit would be the 7th or 8th smallest in the EU both this year and in 2013. He added that the country's state debt was falling too.

Orbán said he did not expect any of Hungary's Cohesion Fund allocation to be lost.